In an opinion piece for The Daily Caller and on his site, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said “making the tax collector also the tax preparer creates an inherent conflict of interest while forcing citizens to relinquish control of their taxes to the government.”
The government already controls taxes and thus citizens’ incomes. In a time when so many are worried about privacy, few voice any concern about the enormous privacy problems inherent in the forced full disclosure of the intimate details of one’s financial affairs.
Fiscal year 2019 is forecast to have federal revenue of $3.422 trillion, of which $1.688 trillion will be from individual income taxes. That means repealing the income tax and replacing it with nothing would take the federal budget not back to the founding era or even the nineteenth century but to the Clinton years.
It's worth noting that they're also against it getting too complex too. There's a sweet spot where most people feel comfortable using software to complete and file their returns but is also not too simple to need software.
Also, their position is that simple filings allow the government too much control and that taxpayers are better represented by an entity that is incentivized to minimize their tax burden.
Still, I always found Intuit's lobbying efforts to fail Brad's (Brad Smith is, the CEO) "you wouldn't tell your mother" test and it was one of the main reasons I ended up leaving Intuit.
Lobbying is a way for the rich to legally shortcircuit democracy. It’s legal corruption and as bad for democracy as the illegal counterpart.
In Denmark we have had prefilled tax forms for I don’t know how many years. More than two decades. Nowadays its online. You log on and see your taxes and edit when necessary. It’s still unnecessarily complicated if you are not an employee, but for the 90 percent who receive salary as their only income and only have ordinary deductions it’s somewhat bareable although it can be hard to check if the tax authorities calculated the tax correctly.
There is a useful distinction to be made among three things:
- The activity of lobbying, which is explicitly protected by the 1st amendment as petitioning the government for a redress of grievances.
- Contracts to pay someone else to engage in lobbying, which apparently used to be illegal.
- Giving gifts to legislators, which is illegal if quid-pro-quo.
 My source is https://priceonomics.com/when-lobbying-was-illegal/ though that does not itself cite any sources. I'd love if someone more familiar with legal history could comment on its accuracy.
Reminds me of the similar article posted recently, '“Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” Goldman Sachs analysts ask.' Or net neutrality. Regulatory capture is out of control in at least a dozen american industries i know of.
I've read a thread like this before, prepare for lots of people from countries that aren't the US explaining that their taxes are way simpler.
I wouldn't be surprised if a significant part of the GDP of the US comes from rent-seeking "services" that are either not needed or overcharged. Like "credit protection" for "identity theft". Healthcare seems to be the main contributor to this.
Governments across the world are becoming more proactive and trying to improve ease of doing business and paying taxes. This is the way it should be. Citizens shouldn't have to run around or pay someone to pay taxes. In India, starting a business used to be a hassle taking more than 2 - 3 months, now they have completely made it online and free. So players in India like https://www.indiafilings.com are also adopting to the changes by providing more services or lowering the fee, which is great for Entrepreneurs. Hopefully, the politicians will not budge for lobbying to satisfy a few corporates and look at the bigger picture.
Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. They truly fear for the safety of their industry, which is responsible for ~$7.5B in revenue between the two (per annum).
Planet money had a podcast on this subject. https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/03/22/521132960/epis...
In Germany, many people don’t need to file taxes, as they’re deducted anyways. But you can and it usually saves you some money. If you do though, it’s about as complex as in the states, the only difference being that there is only one form you’d need to fill and not 2-3 (federal, state, city)
IMO the problem is the tax code itself rather than who is filing the paperwork. Unless that is simplified, there is zero chance the average citizen can work through their taxes themselves and pay the correct amount.
Nothing can be done about open corruption like this until money is taken out of politics. Since the Supreme Court has ruled that this can’t be done by banning donations or limiting political advertising, the solution is to reduce the size of each electorate so that politicians don’t need to raise truckloads of cash in order to run.
If there were only 20,000 voters in each district then people would be able to run (and win) on personally meeting all the voters. No need for advertising and the money this requires. If you got rid off all the political staff then it wouldn’t even cost anymore.
> Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., offered a bill last year that would have actually allowed the government to start offering prefill tax returns.
Ironically, just last year, Massachusetts got rid of its own simple, free online tool for filing state taxes, and instead directs residents to commercial offerings.
Related thead on SE: https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/30223/why-doesn...
It’s annoying to see this pop up every year. H&R Block and Intuit aren’t somehow blocking tax reform that would simplify filing for all the other huge companies that do taxes. That’s an absurd theory. They’re lobbying to support something that’ll happen anyway because a huge bloc wants people to be outraged every April 15 when they do their taxes.
And you know what? It works! Every year I write a check to pay our marriage penalty and fume about how it. I think it’s responsible for why middle and lower income Americans feel like they’re over taxed (even though they pay much less taxes than in europe).
For those interested in the theory of lobbying and special interest groups one of my favorite books is Mancur Olson's Rise and Decline of Nations (https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Decline-Nations-Stagflation-Rigi...). It's an incredibly approachable read that does a wonderful job digging into the incentives and explains why lobbying exists and why it works.
I might be alone here but in high school we had a single class to teach us money management and how to file taxes ourselves. It’s only complicated if you have complicated situations. Vast majority of people probably shouldn’t be using software anyways but the marketing makes them think they’ll get a bigger refund.
I also wouldn’t have a problem with them getting rid of all the weird rules around certain deductions. Example, is web hosting a utility or subscription service?
The legitimate side to this is that people should know what their government is costing them. Because of tax withholding, many people don’t even realize how high/low their taxes are.
I have a belief that we should get rid of tax-withholding, and have people just write a big check (or receive a EITC check) for all of their taxes at the end of the year.
To me (and I think many republicans), hiding the taxes you pay with withholding is really pretty slimy.
Every year a week before the tax deadline, this exact topic pops up. I've noticed now for the past 4 to 5 years.
The IRS should really advocate for this since it makes their jobs easier due to people making less mistakes. The IRS also has it's own lobby group - the US Congress. It's just not good at lobbying for the IRS...or Americans.
What are the examples of some of the other industries that thrive on this kind of asymmetric information for the buyer?
Reminded me of this article by Tyler Cowen https://www.cato-unbound.org/2015/04/06/alex-tabarrok-tyler-...
Yeah, they are known crooks who want to retain their middlemen position at the cost of the public. Quite disgusting.
I have found a free spreadsheet online,and I mail a paper return. The spreadsheet is surprisingly good, and I can use it in libreoffice. I started doing that after finding $22,000 worth of errors in years past. I call it paper protest.
Tax companies whose existence relies on them and only them to decipher cryptic government tax laws. Quite literally the most predictable and unsurprising news article to come out on the internet.
Don't hate the player? Lobbyism doesn't serve the public, but it is how American law-making is done. Of course companies will lobby to keep their business.
Personally I’ve always found it sickening that a government would just hand you a prefilled form and say This is what you owe!
Feels much better to do it all yourself and declare This is what I’m going to pay. It’s a careful distinction.