T O P

What are your thoughts on giving the IRS the power and responsibility to prepare tax filings on behalf of all Americans instead of having the private sector do it?

What are your thoughts on giving the IRS the power and responsibility to prepare tax filings on behalf of all Americans instead of having the private sector do it?

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The following is a copy of the original post to record the post as it was originally written. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a plan where the IRS would basically do your taxes for you. Good idea or bad idea? *I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please [contact the moderators of this subreddit](/message/compose/?to=/r/AskALiberal) if you have any questions or concerns.*


prizepig

Good idea. There are ENTIRE INDUSTIES built upon understanding and exploiting the arcane knowledge about the tax code. We've made the essential process of collecting revenue to pay for state services into a fucking game of subterfuge and whack-a-mole. It doesn't have to be this way.


polyscipaul20

Ok…here is a thought…isn’t having the IRS collecting taxes and preparing returns a conflict of interest? The primary function of the IRS is to raise and collect revenue for the federal government. An IRS-run “free” filing system would likely be built to represent government interests and would have no incentive to maximize taxpayer deductions or protect taxpayers from audits. On the other hand, certified professionals and tax preparation companies have every reason to help taxpayers take advantage of every deduction available to them. In my city, competing tax filing services even provide refunds to users if another service gets them more money back. My accountant looks for missed deductions and structures my taxes to minimize my tax bill. Would the IRS do this? Edit: why the downvotes? You truly trust the IRS more than a private preparer to look out for your interests and structure your taxes in such a way that it maximizes your deductions? If so, wow


LiberalAspergers

The vast majority of filers get paid on a W2 and take the standard deduction. The IRS can easily prepare this return and send it to each taxpayer and they have the option of accepting it, or of preparing their own return. If you are itemizing, yeah you probably want a real professional. But it makes me sick to see people PAYING H&R Block to file a standard deduction return.


polyscipaul20

>But it makes me sick to see people PAYING H&R Block to file a standard deduction return. I did my own when I had a standard return


LiberalAspergers

As did I, but there are a lot of people out there who aren't that comfortable with math. Or confident in their English language skills. Or are scared that they will make a mistake and the IRS will come after them. I can't think of a single reason the IRS shouldn't prepare a standard return for every W2 receiving taxpayer.and email it to them as a free option.


NeolibShill

Because what if it is wrong and the IRS sends it out? A bank or company you worked for was late filing so they didn't receive all your income when they sent you your prefilled return and you paid too little.


LiberalAspergers

If a bank or.company is late.filing the same situation would apply for a Turbo Tax user or H&R Block customer. The person in question is no worse off.than they would be under the current system.


cstar1996

We could, and this might be shocking, make the IRS responsible for delays due to information that people other than the filer failed to provide the IRS.


LiberalAspergers

We could have a system where you can file an amended return for up to 3 years....oops, we already do.


Kakamile

Then you add it in? The prefilled form isn't absolute, it's a time-saver.


rossoroni21

It's actually the opposite. Sure the airs cares about getting the most money,but for the average worker they don't care. As in they arnt getting a bonus if the IRS collects more. They will compete the taxes based off the law and then move on. Companies on the other hand are incentives to not get you the best return. If they get $50 bucks per return, doing the bare minimum and getting through more is worth more to them then spending that extra time to save you 200bucks. The refund thing is a complete scam companies use to make you think they are giving you a good or value product. No one is going to a company, paying to get there taxes done. Then going to another company and paying to get there taxes done, just to get a refund on the first one.


SnarkyOrchid

The IRS is the final decision maker anyway. They can and do audit you and tell you you were wrong and make you pay.


GilgameDistance

I’m surprised I had to scroll so far to get to this comment. Under the current system, they know where you need to be to settle up anyway, and while you are free to take liberties with your return filing, they are absolutely going to get what they think you owe out of you if you’re too aggressive with your paperwork or if you try and hide something. Under either system, if they think you owe something you’re gonna pay, unless you can afford the kind of lawyer who can beat them in court. I don’t think the vast majority of us on here can, and if you’re on a W2 and taking the standard deduction it doesn’t matter anyway as the tax table is quite clear on what your rate is.


preacher_knuckles

Other countries already use the system you're asking about. So let's be honest about it: what are your issues with existing analogous systems, e.g. that in Japan? >My accountant looks for missed deductions and structures my taxes to minimize my tax bill. Having money makes you pay less taxes in our current system, which I believe is fundamentally wrong. It sounds like you don't want to lose your benefits under the current system; that's OK, but you can't pretend that you also want something more equitable.


polyscipaul20

No…being entitled to legal deductions is not wrong. Do you feel that deductions are wrong?


preacher_knuckles

Deductions aren't wrong. What is wrong is that you need money to truly get those deductions. Who do you think the IRS audits the most? The poor, i.e. the same people who would benefit the most from having the IRS file your taxes and then let you check their work. I'll ask again: what do you find wrong with state tax filing programs in other countries, e.g. Japan?


polyscipaul20

How much do people that are truly poor even put in taxes? On the net, do they get more back in the form of an earned income tax credit, food stamps, free lunches for their kids, etc than they put in? I would argue that I deserve more deductions because I pay more Are poor people writing off equipment expenses? Mortgage deductions?


preacher_knuckles

>Are poor people writing off equipment expenses? Mortgage deductions? It depends on where they live and what they do for work. For example, working poor farmers very well would. >How much do people that are truly poor even put in taxes? Enough for the IRS to regularly audit them more than any other group. One last time: what is your opinion on state based filing systems in other countries, e.g. Japan? If you blatantly don't respond to this again, I am taking it as a demonstration that you have no intention to actually discuss the topic you brought up as OP other than complaining how you believe that it would cost you money. Edit: looks like I got my answer.


candre23

> isn’t having the IRS collecting taxes and preparing returns a conflict of interest? Less so than letting you do it. It's in "the government's" interest to make sure you pay as much as you're legally obligated to pay. It's in your interest to pay as little as you can get away with. The difference is there is no benefit to the IRS employees who are doing the actual work to cheat on behalf of the government (they don't work on commission), but there is an *enormous* incentive for you to cheat. You have a lot to gain by lying to your benefit, while the government doesn't. The government is inherently more trutworthy in this situation because they have an legal mandate to be so, and they have no financial incentive not to. And besides, it's not like you just get a notice to just "pay X amount". You receive the detailed tax forms, and if you disagree with anything on there, you can make corrections. There is exactly zero risk.


prizepig

In theory, sure. In some limited circumstances there's one interpretation of the rules that favors the taxpayer, and there's another interpretation that favors the IRS. In those situations, that's a conflict of interest. I'd say that's a problem with the rules. But for the most part this is just a big, complicated math problem. There is an objectively correct number according to the applicable rules and regs. There's benefit in having professional advice to navigate those rules to your advantage. You can also pay people to tell you how to cheat without getting in any serious trouble, but that's not a good way to run the system.


Indrigotheir

This wouldn't go away. The IRS prefiling shouldn't eliminate your ability to file as you do now, should you wish.


YayAnotherTragedy

The IRS already offers free filing.


not_a_flying_toy_

kinda. Free filing for both fed and state if you make over $40k is hard to find. I mean I could fill it out manually but...


YayAnotherTragedy

Okay and how much is it, really, to file for over 40k?


kjvlv

so destroy entire industries. got it. fantastic plan.... whew..


PragmaticSquirrel

Lol, apparently libertarians now Like useless, paper pushing bureaucracies that add no value and waste billions. TIL!


willpower069

Libertarians are just embarrassed republicans.


kjvlv

no, I have said that I dislike governments precisley because they are useless, paper pushing bureaucracies that add no value and waste billions.. you seem to like them though. give them more power. great plan.


PragmaticSquirrel

Nope. The private tax industry IS a useless, paper pushing bureaucracy. You want to preserve it.


kjvlv

>nope and nope. The private tax industry is necessary because the useless, paper pushing government bureaucracies has perverted the tax code so much that is in not for collecting revenue anymore. It is for granting favors and graft for wealthy donors. So as usual, the government which is a useless, paper pushing bureaucracies that add no value and waste billions created a problem by having increased government now say that the solution of course,,,, is more government. and you fall for it every single time. the only answer is more federal government. baaaaaa.


PragmaticSquirrel

Lol, except - other countries do just fine without a private tax industry. And have plenty of tax complexity. Evidence doesn’t support your claim. This is just politics as religion. “Big gubment bad”.


kjvlv

lol lol lol. by other countries you mean the communist ones? "mo gubment,,gooood"


PragmaticSquirrel

Oh look, a dumb straw man! Germany does just fine with literally no requirement to file an income tax return. Which is why less than 1/3 of citizens do. You can- if you hope for a refund. But if you know the standard deduction is all you’ll get? No return filed. Their system is objectively **more efficient and less bureaucratic than ours.** All these responses do is reveal how little you know.


kjvlv

Their system is objectively more efficient and less bureaucratic than ours. so go there. The us tax law currently hovers around 4132 pages. so instead of making it simpler so you can figure it out yourself, your solution is to give the government who created 4132 pages of tax law more power. that is just beyond naive. and that reveals how little you know about how governments act .


prizepig

The tax code shouldn't be a make-work project. The way we do this most basic necessity is overly complicated and dumb, and that's mostly because the financial services industry made it that way, and wants to keep it that way and will try to make it worse. If the private sector offered a good solution, I'd happily accept it. They haven't and won't, so we can and should decide to do it differently.


BernankeIsGlutenFree

It's an fantastic and obvious idea. There's a Planet Money episode about a pilot program in California doing the same thing for state taxes, and it worked brilliantly, getting >90% approval among Democrats *and* Republicans each who participated... before it was sunk by TurboTax lobbyists and libertarians who thought that filing taxes should be onerous to discourage trust in the state or some such nonsense. How it works here in Canada is: I get mailed my T4 slip by my employer, I put in one or two pieces of info on the CRA website, I scroll through to see if there are any additional available deductions I want to take that the automatic process missed somehow, and I'm done. Whole process of filing provincial and federal taxes together takes no more than ten minutes and doesn't require me to pay anyone for anything.


Jisho32

> before it was sunk by TurboTax Everyone knows that lobbying is the only reason we haven't made filing taxes easier. Tax prep is, iirc, a *billion* dollar industry so of course there is lobbying to prevent filing from ever becoming easier.


Altruistic-Text3481

Similar to England.


stopped_watch

And Australia. Sometimes the way Americans do things truly befuddles me.


rettribution

I'm American and the way we do things befuddles me as well. It's like - hey here's a completely better way to do ....anything. And politicians are like, nah, fuck that. I just got $50 from some hyper specific vehemently opposed nerd. We are going to do it his way.


Altruistic-Text3481

Me too mate!


deloreanipsum

Jesus. When I was an independent contractor here in the US and tried to file my taxes by me self it took a full 8 hours. Insane.


polyscipaul20

Do you worry about privacy? The Biden administration is already pushing for a law that would require banks to report transactions over $600 to the IRS. A government-run “free” file system would take this a step further and require the IRS to collect troves of information from taxpayers that it currently doesn’t have access to. Should this concern taxpayers from a privacy standpoint?


BernankeIsGlutenFree

Isn't the IRS already being provided that information anyway, just in a way that is annoying and wastes taxpayer time?


darenta

Lol what, the government already collects our info with or without a filing system. In fact, they do it when I file the taxes myself and turn it into…the government. I guess if I want to lose my mind trying to find my W2 form from last year whole pretending I’m sticking it to the government when in reality it doesn’t change anything, then yeah let’s stick with the status quo.


1platesquat

Not very nice to laugh at someone’s question in my opinion


kbeks

I once made a minor mistake on my taxes. I was an intern, so we’re talking about a small discrepancy and a tiny amount of money. I misplaced my W-2 and used the last check, not the total money earned in a year. The IRS audited me, held up my return for a few months, I re-filed, got a bigger return, then got paid the bigger return with interest, which i then had to pay taxes on. The IRS already knows most everything they need to know about most people. They knew my bill before I did, it was just some weird quiz where if you answer wrong you get audited. Fuck that, I’ll take rich people not being able to gift their inheritances to each other as easily over me paying for a new Turbo Tax every February any day of the week


letusnottalkfalsely

No. It will never be possible to live in society without Facebook, Amazon, Google and others having more info on me than the IRS could ever dream of. I’m not gonna lose sleep over the IRS getting info I’d have to give them anyway.


PlayingTheWrongGame

> A government-run “free” file system would take this a step further and require the IRS to collect troves of information from taxpayers that it currently doesn’t have access to. The IRS currently has to independently collect troves of information to verify your return anyway. They already generally know the majority of the information you tell them on your return. If you file a 1040EZ, the IRS already has all that information. It’s literally a useless paperwork exercise to have you prepare it.


Short-Coast9042

\>require the IRS to collect troves of information from taxpayers that it currently doesn’t have access to This is incorrect. As someone else pointed out, the IRS ALREADY has all this information. You give it to them when you file your taxes. Which is required by law. If you pay payroll taxes, as do the majority of us who are paid a wage or salary and are not self-employed, the IRS gets this info with every paycheck. So they already know how much you make and how much is deducted. They COULD just send you a check for the amount you are owed. Instead you are forced to give them all this information again for no reason and request the refund. Literally the ONLY reason we DON'T already have return free filing is because there is a huge industry built around doing your taxes. There is zero actual reason why we shouldn't do return free filing, it is an extremely obvious and sensible policy idea, and we would have started doing it long ago if our government wasn't thoroughly captured by corporations that add no value to society, but simply profit off our broken tax system.


Akuuntus

The IRS already has all the information it needs to do everyone's taxes for them. If they didn't have that info, they would have no way of knowing whether you filed your taxes correctly.


PM_ME_YOUR_DARKNESS

> A government-run “free” file system would take this a step further and require the IRS to collect troves of information from taxpayers that it currently doesn’t have access to. What information do you think they would gain access to that they currently don't?


Dobross74477

Never gonna happen anyway Edit and it seems to work fine for canadians


candre23

The government *already* has all this info. Most of it is already provided to them by your employer and your bank. The rest you already give it to them every year when you file your taxes. There's nothing this system would disclose that you're not already disclosing, so there is no privacy concern. Unless of course you're *not* disclosing things on your taxes that you're legally required to. If by "privacy" what you really mean is "don't you warry that you won't be able to cheat the country out of paying your fair share of taxes?", then the answer is still no. Good people don't lie on their tax forms and push the burden of keeping the country running onto others.


LurkerFailsLurking

I am a professional tax advisor. There's absolutely no reason for 90% of Americans to have to go through this process every year. It's absolute horse-shit. Legislation that would allow the IRS to do this would in no way stop small business-owners, self-employed people, single-owner LLC owners, landlords, and other such people from filing their own tax returns, while saving a gargantuan headache for everyone else. If all your household income is coming from W-2s, unemployment, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, bank accounts, and other traditional investment vehicles, tax agencies already have all the information they need. This can be so much simpler oh my fucking god.


-Random_Lurker-

You mean like numerous large and successful countries that are not the USA have done for years? Sounds good to me.


Kakamile

What privacy are you worried about? The IRS already has your tax info, they don't give it to you so that they can charge you for telling them different than they already know.


trippedwire

I still don’t understand why this isn’t a thing


gettheguillotine

TurboTax $$$


ienjoypez

Intuit lobbies our politicians to prevent this from happening. It’s a good idea for us, it’s a bad idea for Intuit’s bottom line. It’s almost like corporate donors control what our politicians do!


Yenserl6099

Why isn't this a thing?


Potato_Octopi

A mix of turbo tax folks lobbying and tax haters that want taxes to be difficult.


PM_ME_YOUR_DARKNESS

> tax haters that want taxes to be difficult. Hadn't thought of that, but it does kind of make sense, especially when any of their "fixes" to simplify the tax code are things like having fewer brackets which is the simplest part of taxes. There's literally just a table where you look up your AGI and it gives the tax owed.


Potato_Octopi

Grover Norquist is against it. Make paying taxes easy and people may be amenable to higher taxes, or so the thinking goes. All seems to fall into the bucket of intentionally making gov inefficient so you can bash gov for being inefficient.


PrometheusHasFallen

Why don't we just simplify the tax code where most everyone has a 1 page tax return?


polyscipaul20

Get rid of deductions and credits? Deductions are a public policy tool used by the government to nudge people into making economic decisions that are good for society. Tough to do that in one page


NeolibShill

This is already how it is


PrometheusHasFallen

Just make everyone take a standard deduction.


polyscipaul20

What about business and second home deductions? Mortgage interest?


Introduction_Deep

First home deduction are fine, second home deductions... is that a thing? If so it's got to go.


polyscipaul20

Why?


othelloinc

>...second home deductions... is that a thing? If so it's got to go. >Why? Tax deductions are simply backdoor spending. Non-refundable tax deductions are backdoor spending that effects the rich more, the middle class less, and the poor not-at-all. Why would we be using the budget to subsidize the second homes of rich people?


polyscipaul20

Who says having a second home makes you rich?


othelloinc

> Who says having a second home makes you rich? I didn't. I said: >Non-refundable tax deductions are backdoor spending that effects the rich more, the middle class less, and the poor not-at-all. Let's imagine two taxpayers in a society that has our mortgage tax deduction. For this example we will assume that second homes are covered in the same way as first homes, and the deduction is non-refundable: [Rich Taxpayer] He has a five million dollar house near his work, and a ten million dollar beach house for weekends and holidays. He has a mortgage on both; both 3.00% and both 20% down. According to [this](https://www.allstate.com/tr/home-insurance/mortgage-tax-credit-calculator.aspx) calculator, he saves **$72,454** off of his taxes each year through the mortgage interest deduction. [Lower Middle Class Taxpayer] She has a two hundred thousand dollar house near her work, and a fifty thousand dollar hunting cabin she inherited, but as it was supposed to be split five ways, she had to refinance it and give the cash to relatives in order to own it outright. She has a mortgage on both; both 3.00% and both 20% down. According to [this](https://www.allstate.com/tr/home-insurance/mortgage-tax-credit-calculator.aspx) calculator, she saves **$2,288** off of her taxes each year through the mortgage interest deduction...but that is lower than the standard deduction, so she doesn't itemize her taxes, and therefore gets **$0.00** off of her tax bill from the mortgage interest deduction. ------ It doesn't matter if non-rich people do/don't have a second home; it matters that the structure of a non-refundable deduction will subsidize the rich more, even if the non-rich have a second home.


polyscipaul20

The mortgage tax deduction is actually phased out after I believe the AGI reached $170k


Introduction_Deep

I will certainly say having a second home make you rich. Not stupid yacht rich but having a second home is a huge luxury. Edit: After thinking about it more, having a second house doesn't necessitate someone being rich. However, it is a strong indicator. Second edit: horrible grammar.


polyscipaul20

Hunting cabin in the woods?


PM_ME_YOUR_DARKNESS

Mortgage interest deduction is there to promote home ownership. I don't think the government needs to have a hand in promoting *second* home ownership. With that said, the standard deduction is high enough now that only around 10% of filers itemize, so it's kind of moot.


PlayingTheWrongGame

Or we could just reduce the tax rate a bit and eliminate all deductions that aren’t about avoiding double taxation. Just have a standard deduction, exempt stuff that’s already taxed, and have a somewhat lower tax rate. Your taxes every year would amount to the government mailing you a postcard-sized return that you personally verify and return (with payment, if necessary). We make our tax code needlessly complicated by trying to compel people to do things with tax cuts rather than compelling them to do things by cutting them a check.


polyscipaul20

That was tried in 1986


PlayingTheWrongGame

Yeah, many Presidents have tried to adopt return-free filing and tax code simplification for a long time now. It’s always been blocked by lobbying by the tax preparation industry, who will spend essentially however much it takes to bribe Congress into keeping the tax code complicated and keeping returns hard to file. They love to sew FUD about it too, like the idea that return free filing means not being able to itemize.


Poorly-Drawn-Beagle

Honestly that works for me


polyscipaul20

Because you are young and don't itemize


cstar1996

Then itemize yourself. Why should the system be made vastly more difficult for the vast majority of people who just take the standard deduction when doing so does not *in any way* harm people who want to itemize?


ZerexTheCool

They wouldn't end itemizing if they implemented this system. They would mail you a form, you would say "Na, for this instead" then they would do that instead. It might not make it easier for you, but it definitely won't make it harder. And heck, it might also make it easier for you as some of it will be pre filled out.


PlayingTheWrongGame

Nothing about return-free filing prevents you from itemizing. You can file an amendment to the return they prepare for you for the ~20% of Americans that benefit from itemized deductions.


ButGravityAlwaysWins

100% in favor. For almost everybody, the government has all the information already and making people filed her own taxes is a huge waste of peoples time and money and a huge waste of government resources. Plus once that’s in place, Handling normal payments like the EITC or any other program becomes way easier and has a much lower administrative burden plus everybody who supposed to be eligible actually will get the payments.


kcasper

They already do this anyway. Currently we just do it once before them.


snowbirdnerd

It's clearly what should be happening. The IRS knows how much you should owe. They should send you a bill you can ammend with corrections and send back.


bucky001

I guess it's funny in a way because don't they already do it? I mean if you miscalculate and underpay - don't they catch that? You just only get to see their version of it after you goof up.


ryanh6143

It sounds like a great idea although I hope in the future, Congress won’t cut funding for the IRS and then turn around and blame it for inefficiency


candre23

Don't worry, they'd [never do something like that.](https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/april-may-june-2019/congress-is-sabotaging-your-post-office/)


Yupperdoodledoo

I’ve wanted this for years, just send me a bill. If I disagree I can dispute it.


reconditecache

Great idea.


Kerplonk

100% for it.


kbeks

Baller, do it.


kckaaaate

I’ve lived in countries where this is done, and it made me realize what a racket and lobbied thing the tax preparation industry is in this country.


ZeusThunder369

Just shows you how powerful lobbying is. Bipartisan support yet will never happen.


CaptOblivious

Good idea for everyone other than the tax prep companies. They have been lobbying against this for as long as they have existed, Remember CompuServe? That was h&r block's unused computing power.


Snuba18

It baffles me that this isn't the case in America anyway. The government (or, more accurately, HMRC) does this for the overwhelming majority of Brits.


PlayingTheWrongGame

This is purely the result of lobbying by the tax preparation industry. The IRS has been trying to move to return-free filing since the 90s, with support from Presidents in both parties. But the tax preparation industry lobbied Congress *very* hard to prevent it. Intuit has a significant business interest in making tax preparation hard and intimidating, so they can pay basically whatever it takes to make sure it remains intimidating to file a tax return.


BlueCollarBeagle

YES, YES, YES. Many nations do this. It will save typical taxpayers a few hundred dollars a year in fees paid to private tax preparers. It will removed an unproductive bottleneck from our tax collecting system. On the downside, those highly paid private tax preparers will be unemployed, but they can be retrained to do something productive.


othelloinc

> On the downside, those highly paid private tax preparers will be unemployed, but they can be retrained to do something productive. I view this as an *upside* in the long-term. It takes brainpower to help people file their taxes. The economy would probably be much better served if the people with such brainpower wielded it for any other purpose.


polyscipaul20

Maybe teach them to code?


kjvlv

what a horrendous plan. How about a simple tax code that does not require help? at this point why anyone would propose the federal government have even more power is beyond me.


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DBDude

This is easily solved for most cases. Some time around January you get a document stating your calculated tax return. If it appears accurate, which it will be for a large percentage of people, you have two choices. You can sign and send back, and your taxes will be processed according to that information. You can ignore it, and the government will process it at the April deadline. If you think the IRS missed something common, like you have a new dependent or something, you only fill out a modification form and send that back. Then you get a verification again. You only need to "do taxes," calculating everything, if you're in the small percentage that has more complicated taxes.


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DBDude

>You mean the small percentage of Americans that have a mortgage, retirement account, HSA, or other contribution-deductible account into which the IRS has no insight? They certainly know my HSA because that's already on my tax statement. They know your retirement accounts because the banks tell them. They probably know your mortgage too. And even then, most people don't use their mortgage in their taxes because it gives no advantage over the standard deduction. Thinking of my taxes over my lifetime, most years would be covered without any action on my part. Some years would require I submit a change, but we can put that on the W2 in advance to avoid that. Only a few years would have required actually doing taxes.


polyscipaul20

You are right about gray areas.


RansomStoddardReddit

I think it is a good idea with a couple caveats. It can’t become an entitlement - people can be sent a courtesy return that represents all the income that is reported to the irs- w2 or 1099 minus a standard deduction. They can then simply approve and return it or discard it and start from scratch. But the burden still needs to be on the taxpayer to file their return by 4/15. I can see this becoming a slippery slope where people become entitled to the service then it becomes an excuse to miss filing. The IRS is already stretched really thin, so Congress would have to increase their budget to make this happen. But anything that makes it less burdensome for people to file would be a good thing.


Introduction_Deep

This kind of system would cut costs. Paperwork and processing could be nearly eliminated compared to our current system. It would also drastically reduce the necessity of enforcement. I couldn't find any statistics but it makes intuitive sense.


spidersinterweb

I wonder what the voters would think when the tax prep industry takes a huge hit since basically nobody would use that anymore Like, I think it's good policy in theory,I'd be fine with it personally. But what would the deranged swing voters, the folks who say "actually both sides *good enough* so it's hard to choose" say? Idk


ButGravityAlwaysWins

This is the same argument that was used for fighting EZPass. All the toll collectors would lose their jobs. The toll collectors all got new jobs somewhere else in a more efficient economy, where we don’t have arbitrary slowdowns occurring because one person didn’t have enough coins and the government wasn’t paying for a bunch of work that’s better done by a machine.


Dobross74477

You can do your own taxes and not pay a contractor. I personally think that the IRS, like most american gov, is massively underfunded. That being said, It would be very expensive and would rather see the money go to healthcare reform...or something like that. Or massive worldwide education and skills training. I would like to see more transparency as to what our taxes actually pay for, as seen in austria. As a side note, im so incredibly disenfranchised with the backwards mentality of this country, that, I feel like no progress will ever happen anyway


PlayingTheWrongGame

> That being said, It would be very expensive and would rather see the money go to healthcare reform...or something like that. Return-free filing would actually be significantly cheaper to administer.


gagilo

novel thought the IRS just tells you what you owe


80_firebird

Yes, do that. It's stupid that I have to pay someone to do what the IRS should have been doing all along.


slingshot91

Absolutely a good idea. They have most or all of the info that MOST people need to report so why not prepare the form with the info they already have? If you have additional things to report or don’t trust what they have prepared, then find a service to prepare them yourself.


StupidPointless

As for frilly toothpicks on club sandwiches, I'm for it


Rental_Car

This would have happened long ago if it werent for lobbying from the tax prep industry


dennismfrancisart

They know more about our income than anyone but us. I have no problem with it if you get someone to do your taxes for you now. I've been doing my taxes for my personal and business income for over 30 years. I probably will just let the IRS do it for me when I'm at the point in old age where I don't want the headache of doing it anymore.


Eotheod0092

I like it. Things should be as simple and straight forward as possible. There are industries that exist because they think the consumer is either too stupid or too busy to do it themselves. My wife's mother was a single mother and paid 200 bucks every year for Liberty Tax to do her tax returns. It doesn't have to be that way. Those with more complicated tax needs could always hire a professional if they wish.


PlayingTheWrongGame

It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have a private tax preparation business. The IRS already has the info it needs to prepare a return for the vast majority of Americans, and the people who need to amend the return the IRS prepares for them could just file an amendment. We should switch to return-free filing where the IRS prepares a return for you, mails it to you, and you check it for accuracy then mail it back (or we could just do all of it electronically for free…). If you want to make a change, you file an amendment. If you do nothing by April 14th, the automatic return is filed for you.


brodymulligan

I do not like it. Taxes suck. But I want to do my own. I don't trust the IRS to do my taxes correctly. They still haven't processed last years return. The IRS website is always down for maintence. But the payment portal is always working. I would like them to prefill some things which they already do if you use e-file it shows most stuff in there automatically, but I'm self employed for the most part, so I don't know how that would work for me. I would like them to prefill some things which they already do if you use e-file it shows most stuff in there automatically, but I'm self-employed for the most part, so I don't know how that would work for me.


aurelorba

> I do not like it. Taxes suck. But I want to do my own. I don't trust the IRS to do my taxes correctly. T You still could if you wish. The idea is for most simple returns you can let the government complete it since they already have the information. But if you want to do it yourself if you have an unusually complex return or just because you want to, you could.


brodymulligan

Oh. Then in that case, I approve.


aurelorba

It actually does much more that I suspect you would agree with. https://www.warren.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Tax%20Filing%20Simplification%20Act%20of%202019%20fact%20sheet.pdf The Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2019 The Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2019 makes several commonsense changes to simplify the tax filing process for millions of American taxpayers and lower their costs. The Act:  Prohibits the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide free online tax preparation or filing services.  Directs the IRS to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that would allow all taxpayers to prepare and file their taxes directly with the federal government instead of being forced to share private information with third parties.  Enhances taxpayer data access by allowing all taxpayers to download third-party-provided tax information that the IRS already has into a software program of their choice.  Allows eligible taxpayers with simple tax situations to choose a new return-free option, which provides a pre-prepared tax return with income tax liability or refund amount already calculated.  Mandates that these data and filing options be made available through a secure online function and requires any participating individual to verify his or her identity before accessing tax data.  Reduces tax fraud by getting third-party income information to the IRS earlier in the tax season, allowing the agency to cross-check this information before issuing refunds.  This approach to tax filing has been praised in the media and endorsed by tax scholars and a bipartisan set of policymakers


RockinRobin-69

Wonderful idea. Here are your taxes and here’s what you owe. If you feel differently please file.


MjolnirPants

You know that meme of the 90s blonde kid turning away from his computer to give the camera a thumbs up? That's how I feel.


tway15q1

They'll do it already, if you ask them. That's how nearly all grown-up countries do it. The only reason we don't is that the middleman grifters -- all those tax companies that advertise so heavily -- would have to actually **earn** their money. Right now, their pitch is mainly, "Or you'll have to do it **yourself**!" In most other countries, the government uses the exact same information to do it for you, at no profit incentive for themselves for doing that work for you, and you either accept their math, or challenge it and submit your own competing review, which you can discuss with them. (You can do that with IRS, too.) It's a very well proven idea that's very long overdue in the US.


Akuuntus

The fact that the IRS can tell if I've filed my taxes incorrectly means that they know what my "correct" taxes should look like. Therefore there's literally no point in making me do it other than giving me a chance to fuck it up and get audited. There's no reason they couldn't do it for us, and there's no downside to having them do it for us unless you're a TurboTax executive.


sdjsfan4ever

I live in Japan where no one has to do their own taxes, and it’s wonderful, so the US absolutely should do that. While they’re at it, they should also stop taxing us expats on our foreign-earned income cuz it’s complete bullshit that the US is the only developed country that does that…


Icolan

There is no reason not to do this except for protection of TurboTax and others like them. They are the ones that keep lobbying against this kind of thing because it allows them to obscure the free options and make more money.


loufalnicek

Love it.


lannister80

You mean like virtually every other country on Earth? Sounds good to me.


YayAnotherTragedy

Why don’t American citizens have more power as to where their taxes go? I think we should have a system where the American people have a say, where they can check some boxes to allocate a certain percentage of their taxes to whatever department they’d like. The government can take 0.5% automatically and put it in a reserve fund. Then, the taxpayer can allocate 10% to the dept of education, 25% to Defense, 5% to the DHS and the remaining across the board, for example. We’d finally have an idea as to what the average American citizen actually finds important. We might find out that we don’t actually want to spend >20% on defense and <1% on the science and energy. Department heads would be nominated/assigned by the sitting president for 5 year terms, and no more than 2 terms. They would be responsible for allocating the funds to the appropriate programs in their respective departments. It’s radical, sure, but why do we have elected representatives if not for the fact that we choose them so they can figure out how to spend our money? Should the decision to bail out the American people be left to one senator/congressman who has conflicting motives with their corrupt corporate interests or the actual American people who need help? Plus, this would incentivize people to actually do their taxes because they’d finally have a say, even those tax dodging billionaires. I can understand why Bill Gates wouldn’t file his taxes because a lot of it would go to the department of defense, but if could actually say, “Wait no, I’d like to put the majority of my money into healthcare.” He would probably be more likely to file. I dunno. I know it’s a damn fantasy, but isn’t that the embodiment of taxation with representation?


TheSanityInspector

The IRS already does something like this, in certain situations. [https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free](https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free) [https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/irs/audits-and-tax-notices/can-the-irs-file-a-return-for-me/](https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/irs/audits-and-tax-notices/can-the-irs-file-a-return-for-me/)


not_a_flying_toy_

I believe many other countries do this. I read once that the IRS usually knows how much you owe or are owed, so I can imagine a scenario where they basically send you that information and its on you to either confirm it or dispute it


TerminalHighGuard

At least let us audit them.


secretid89

Clarification: Do you still have the option to file your own tax return if you have an unusual situation? (For example: self employed, waitresses with tip income in cash, freelancing where your income is unpredictable, and so on). As long as you can still file a tax return for those situations, it sounds great to me! It would save the hassle for most people!


Suspicious_Role5912

I would be happy with it so long as you’re able to make additional deductions that the automatic process misses.