16 votes

Why the Government Makes Filing Your Taxes Intentionally Difficult (in the United States)

5 comments

  1. [2]
    ThatFanficGuy Link
    Jesus holy Christ. How many idiots does the US have to suffer before it can breathe easier? I mean, wouldn't that be horrible if taxes could be filed easily? People already hate the IRS, for...

    Norquist has fought California’s ReadyReturn program, as well as the idea of free federal tax preparation. In 2013, Norquist sent an open letter to Congress signed by Americans for Prosperity and other corporate-funded, far-right advocacy groups, warning that the IRS wanted to “socialize all tax preparation in America.”

    Jesus holy Christ. How many idiots does the US have to suffer before it can breathe easier?

    I mean, wouldn't that be horrible if taxes could be filed easily? People already hate the IRS, for reasons not entirely within the service's capacity to affect. Can we make it worse?

    This agreement, known as “Free File,” was part of the President’s Management Agenda, a 2001 initiative by George W. Bush, which instructed government agencies to adopt market-friendly e-government reforms.

    How... how, even, can an e-government – which is a governmental initiative directly interfacing it with the people – be market-friendly? I get hiring companies for infrastructure maintainance, but this is beyond me. I would understand hiring people from the tax software firms to make the process of filing easier, but... uh... no, this is beyond me.

    However, even with Goolsbee in his cabinet, Obama never passed any federal simple return legislation.

    It seems like that would be extremely difficult, given that every step of the way there would be lobby money involved. At least in Russia corruption is still illegal.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) singled out these tax lobbyists in April 2016 when she introduced a bill to simplify tax filing. She would later pitch a similar bill in 2017 with 10 Democratic cosponsors, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), which was the most heavily lobbied against bill of 2017 and 2018.

    See what I mean?

    14 votes
    1. NaraVara Link Parent
      Man we can’t even get rid of currency denominations that nobody uses, and whose metals actually exceed the face value of the coin they’re minted on, because the zinc industry will lobby anyone who...

      Man we can’t even get rid of currency denominations that nobody uses, and whose metals actually exceed the face value of the coin they’re minted on, because the zinc industry will lobby anyone who tried to rationalize the currency.

      It’s a total mess the extent to which tiny lobbying groups can make life inconvenient for people. Doing anything in America is a giant slog uphill. Absolutely nothing about our government is set up to make life easier for us.

      10 votes
  2. Algernon_Asimov Link
    ... and Australia. Over the past decade or so, the Australian Tax Office has been developing and incrementally improving a program/website/app for Aussies to file their taxes. It started as piece...

    In 2005, Joe Bankman worked on a California pilot program called ReadyReturn, which California’s tax agency, the Franchise Tax Board, carefully developed. The program allowed California residents to simply review their state tax returns, prepared for them in advance by the state’s Franchise Tax Board, at no cost. Such a model is common in several countries, including the Netherlands, Japan and Sweden.

    ... and Australia. Over the past decade or so, the Australian Tax Office has been developing and incrementally improving a program/website/app for Aussies to file their taxes. It started as piece of software you had to install on your computer, which was basically a series of blank data entry forms that collected data and then transmitted it to the ATO, but now it's a web page that's pre-populated with most of the relevant information. For the majority of Australian taxpayers, doing our taxes is a quick and easy process (if we want it to be). Of course, there are always some people with more complicated tax affairs, but most of us can do our taxes easily... and for free.

    5 votes
  3. Sheep Link
    It is still astonishing to me that this is the reality Americans face every year with their taxes. Either pay someone (or a piece of software) to do it for them, or risk drowning in paperwork so...

    It is still astonishing to me that this is the reality Americans face every year with their taxes. Either pay someone (or a piece of software) to do it for them, or risk drowning in paperwork so thick that you may make a mistake along the way and then get audited and lose even more money in fines. So you either lose money or time or both. The system is clearly skewed to benefit the middleman agencies/software and the people who can afford them and hinder everyone else.

    There are countless examples of automated tax filing systems across the world that have been proven to work. In my country, Portugal, I never have to touch a single piece of paper, it's all pre-filled on a government website (since expenses and gains are accounted here using a number on your national ID everything is automatically recorded for you) and I just check and approve it all in a couple of minutes.

    3 votes
  4. oryx Link
    Yeah it's like this in Canada too. The CRA allows you to autofill any tax software you use with the information they have.

    Yeah it's like this in Canada too. The CRA allows you to autofill any tax software you use with the information they have.

    2 votes