If you’ve ever read Terry Pluto, you know how he likes to write columns where he shares an internal conversation he is having. I love his stuff and figured it was such a good style I might borrow it from time to time for certain topics. And with that introduction, I’ve been talking to myself about taxes a bit.
Question – What’s your impression of this new and improved one-page tax form?
Answer – One page? Can we call it a one-page form when there are six new schedules?
Q – But it is a one-page form, right?
A – Technically, it is. However, all those lines that were removed to slim it down to one page have suddenly been shifted to these six new schedules.
Q – Is it making life easier for filers, personal and professional?
A – I’ve heard stories of CPAs nearing retirement that are glad to be getting out soon because this past tax season was a bit much.
Q – Yeah, but for the personal filer I’m sure it was easier.
A – Is that a question? I have a CPA who does my taxes. I do help my teen sons complete their taxes. We just download the forms from the various federal, state and local sites and fill them out. The federal tax forms were awful this year, at least in my humble opinion.
Q – Why don’t you just use one of those online services, like TurboTax?
A – I like to have my kids see the whole process. Plus, I’ve heard those online services miss some of the more unique forms at the local level. Such as minors are eligible for a full refund of local income tax around me. From what I’ve heard, those forms don’t pop up on the online programs. Also, all the lobbying those corporations do annoys me.
Q – What lobbying?
A – Inuit (owner of TurboTax) and H&R Block spent $6.6 million just last year to lobby Congress. One of their objectives was to pass a law that prohibits the IRS from creating a free electronic tax filing system.
Q – Oh no. Are you getting on your soapbox?
A – Yep! In 2017, 6,421 lobbyists were hired to lobby on tax issues. That is nearly 6 out of every 10 lobbyists hired at all. And they donated $9.6 million that year.
Q – Yeah, but taxes are a complex issue?
A – Absolutely, but why are they so complicated?
Q – Hey, I’m asking the questions here.
A – Fair enough. I’ll get back on topic and ignore that the corporate tax rate dropped from 35% to 21% and the number of corporations paying nothing in taxes doubled. But that’s not what really bothers me.
Q – I’ll probably regret this, but what really bothers you?
A –What bothers me more is I know the IRS could send us all pre-filled tax forms, if they were allowed.
Q – Are you telling me I wouldn’t have to fill out all those stinkin’ forms?
A – Yes. There was a 2013 report that said Inuit spent over $11 million to “oppose IRS government tax preparation.” This killed two bills in 2011 that included pre-filled tax forms. Do you want to know how much money and time this would have saved tax filers?
Q – Again, I’m asking the questions and I really don’t want to know.
A – Too bad. It would have saved tax payers $2 billion and 225 million hours of paperwork.
Q – Ugghhh.
A – My point exactly.
Q – Do you have any good news?
A – Well, tax season is now over (sort of). Personally, I don’t mind too much paying taxes as it means I am doing okay financially. However, I know there are lots of improvements that could be made to the entire process, even as simple as sending out pre-filled forms. And I’m assuming it would actually make life easier for all my CPA clients too (who are now hopefully catching up on their sleep). Plus, I’ll now step down from my soapbox😉