H&R Block and Intuit Are Still Lobbying to Make Filing Taxes Harder

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Here’s how preparing your taxes could work: You sit down, review a pre-filled 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 United States taxpayers the same option. After all, the government already gets earnings information from employers.

But as ProPublica has detailed again and again, Intuit — the makers of TurboTax — and H&R Block have lobbied for years to derail any move toward such a system. And they continued in 2016.

Continue reading at H&R Block and Intuit Are Still Lobbying to Make Filing Taxes Harder

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Comments (1)

  • Here’s an interesting article that was in Accountant’s Daily News by AccountantsWorld. Kind of explains why tax simplification is unlikely to happen any time soon.

    IRS Creates Jobs And Entertainment

    William Baldwin , CONTRIBUTOR

    Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
    This story appears in the September 28, 2017 issue of Forbes. Subscribe

    Tax History Project, Taxanalysts

    Form 1040, 1913

    It was just a nibble when it started. The first 1040, for tax year 1913, had seven brackets, ranging from 1% to 7%. It raised $28 million, a bit less than a dollar per employed citizen. The instructions were a page long.

    Forbes, founded four years later, has been keeping an eye on this venture ever since. And now, when we look out at the business of collecting income tax, we see a mighty industry. It employs CPAs, lawyers, bookkeepers, TurboTax coders, collectors, enrolled agents, congressional staffers, conference planners, political consultants, pontificators, journalists and think tank experts, plus the federal employees who calculated, as required under the Paperwork Reduction Act, that a taxpayer claiming the Empowerment Zone Employment Credit will need 2 hours and 22 minutes to learn about Form 8844 and 2 hours and 33 minutes to fill in the numbers.

    Then there are the economic multiplier effects. On singers, for example. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Ways & Means Committee, needed money for re-election. So he had a benefit event, at which Taylor Swift performed. In like fashion, the restaurant workers of Washington, D.C. can be grateful for the attention that lobbyists pay to the tax code, which, per Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, has seen 5,886 statutory changes since 2001.

    But let’s not overlook the unpaid labor devoted to the tax laws. Most Americans dutifully pay their taxes. (Not all: The inspector general for tax administration has noted 8,279 Internal Revenue Service employees, in the past five years, not in compliance on their own tax obligations.) This takes time. The Tax Foundation estimates that Americans spend 8.9 billion hours a year on the Internal Revenue Code, the equivalent of 5 million full-time jobs. On that score tax work is bigger than farming.

    Could the IRS make this process easier? It does what it can to streamline and simplify. That reference to “wool and hides” in the original 1913 tax return? Gone. So is the line citing a deduction for shipwrecks.

    But a few other complications, introduced by legislators, have cropped up. The empowerment credit, for example, must be applied in a certain order, after the Indian coal production credit and before the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit. If you are an electing partnership claiming the $10,000 reforestation deduction and don’t follow the recapture rules you’re in trouble. Taxpayers and collectors alike must keep pace with constantly changing tax rates, which have lurched from a maximum 7% to 94% and back to 39.6% in a pattern that is hard to distinguish from a random walk.


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