Why Are America’s Tax Forms Still So Horribly Designed?
By: Fast Company
If there’s one issue that this divided nation can agree upon, it’s a common hatred of the federal government’s dizzying, overly complicated tax forms. Show me one person who enjoys digging up last year’s return and embarking on a byzantine quest through tax credits, deductions, exemptions, and withholdings, all for a measly return, and I’ll show you a masochist. Surely, simplifying the forms and the process—shifting the burden from individual taxpayers to the tax specialists at the Internal Revenue Service—is a bipartisan issue that we can all get behind.
Alas, it is not.
Since the government already has all of the information that we put on our tax forms, it would be completely feasible for the IRS to hand us prefilled tax forms that we could review and modify if needed—eliminating most of the headache of filing. Countries like Sweden, Finland, and Spain do it already. Yet in the U.S., some moneyed third-party tax preparers oppose government tax preparation—because, according to Propublica, it poses a risk to their business. The nonprofit news organization, which has covered this topic for years, reports that big private tax companies like H&R Block and Intuit, which owns TurboTax, have been lobbying against simplifying the filing process for nearly a decade. (For its part, Intuit denies that these assertions are factually accurate.)