Liz Day in ProPublica.
Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes — and for free. You’d open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.
Denmark, Sweden, and Spain have what’s known as ‘return free filing‘ for taxes.
The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time.
What a crazy, socialist inspired idea. Besides average taxpayers, who’d go for such a radical but common sense idea?
The idea, known as “return-free filing,” would be a voluntary alternative to hiring a tax preparer or using commercial tax software. The concept has been around for decades and has been endorsed by both President Ronald Reagan and a campaigning President Obama.
Great. When do we start? Nobody would oppose such a money-saving, time-saving idea, right? Why don’t we have this already?
Well, for one thing, it doesn’t help that it’s been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software — Intuit, maker of TurboTax. Conservative tax activist Grover Norquist and an influential computer industry group also have fought return-free filing.
Uh oh. Special interests strike again.
About 25-million Americans used TurboTax last year, and it makes up 35-percent of Intuit’s total revenue. Do you think Intuit spends money to influence congress?