Tax Day doesn’t have to suck

Taxes don’t have to suck to file. Really, they don’t. There is a very simple way tax day could stop
sucking for tens of millions of Americans: The IRS could simply do their taxes for them. The IRS already knows what you make and they
know what you’re probably going to owe. So they do your taxes for you, they send you
the tax return, and they let you make any changes you want. If you want to make your taxes more complicated
— great. If you don’t — and most people don’t — you
can simply sign off and that’s it. You’re done. Because this is the 21st goddamn century. We can order luxury cars on phones and listen
to Jefferson Airplane B sides stored in the cloud. The NSA can do, i mean god knows what they
can do. But if they can do all that, surely the IRS
could save us some the hardship of figuring out what we owe the government, right? Economists certainly think so. Austan Goolsbee, an expert on taxes, he’s
run the numbers on this plan: He says having the IRS autoprepare taxes would save Americans
more than $2 billion dollars tax preparation fees and 225 million hours in time spend preparing
our taxes. Imagine what you could do with that time. If it sounds too good to be true, considering
this. It’s already how taxes work in Denmark, Sweden
and Spain. California tried it as an experiment and 98
percent of the people in the program said they’d do it again. You know who liked this idea? President Ronald Reagan. You know who else likes it? President Barack Obama. There’s legislation in Congress right now
that would make it law. It’d make the IRS your friend. But it keeps failing. Why? Because the people who make money doing your
taxes now — people like Intuit, makers of TurboTax — don’t want the IRS and congress
destroying their businesses. Intuit makes more than a billion dollars annually
from Turbotax and Turbotax-related services. So it was just good business for them to spend
almost two million trying to kill California’s experiment. And the more than $11 million they’ve spent
lobbying Washington in recent years — well, that’s just good business too. And Intuit has some powerful friends. Friends like Grover Norquist, king of the
anti-tax forces. He hates this idea because if taxes are too
easy then people won’t hate them as much. Norquist says the IRS is, quote, trying to
“socialize all tax preparation in America.” Yeah, because having the government use the
information you’re already giving them to prepare an automatic tax return that you can
completely ignore if you want to? That’s totally what Karl Marx had in mind. So if you’re sitting up late this April 14th
wishing there was an easier way — well, there is.


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