Monday, April 13, 2015

Being the liberal I am I generally think the IRS gets too much shit, especially since they don't actually write the tax code.  Back in the mid aughts I had a very specific beef with the IRS: I wanted to file taxes online (quicker, computer assist makes things easier) but the only options for such were 3rd party programs...which cost money (if your income is below a certain level and you are filing the 1040EZ then they are free).  There was no good reason for this.  Several states (including Illinois, where I was living at the time) had free online filing, and it seemed the only reason the fed did not was that tax prep groups (firms and software) were preventing it from being implemented.

Well, it's been available for several years now (can't remember when exactly).  It's not as good as it should be: forms should have more assistance like hover-over description or direct links to the relevant part of the instructions, and some things that should be automated are not (Why do I have to look up my tax from the tax table and input that?  Why doesn't it pull info from the W2's over to the relevant places automatically...and speaking of, why isn't entering W2's the first thing it asks you to do?).  Still, it is navigable, and I neither have to pay a preparer nor a software company to file electronically.  Overall I like it.

Taxes are still too complex, but that is not the IRS's fault, it's the fault of politicians and special interests.  And no politician, no matter what they say, is actually interested in simplifying it, because you can't simplify it without increasing taxes on some group (either special interest or fairly broad).

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