Filing Taxes Could Be Free And Simple. But H&R Block And Intuit Are Still Lobbying Against It

Details

Publish Date:
March 20, 2017
Author(s):
  • Huseman, Jessica
Source:
Pro Publica
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Summary

Here’s how preparing your taxes could work: You sit down, review a prefilled filing from the government. If it’s accurate, you sign it. If it’s not, you fix it or ignore it altogether and prepare your return yourself. It’s your choice. You might not have to pay for an accountant, or fiddle for hours with complex software. It could all be over in minutes.

It’s already like that in parts of Europe. And it would not be particularly difficult to give U.S. taxpayers the same option. After all, the government already gets earnings information from employers.

Joseph Bankman, a law professor in tax law at Stanford Law School said arguments about government overreach are false. Participation is voluntary and actually gives taxpayers the upper hand, forcing the government to “show its hand.”

“Now you know what the government knows,” Bankman said, who added that there are multiple ways taxpayers could benefit. “If there’s a mistake that goes in your favor, maybe you don’t call attention to it.” Also, everyone would receive the returns — including the millions of Americans who are due tax refunds but don’t get them because they don’t file. In 2012 alone, the IRS said more than 1 million Americans did not receive their refunds — amounting to $950 million — because they did not file.

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