by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 25th 2010 9:14am
A fascinating article points out that the government could make the process of filing your tax returns significantly easier by simply sending you pre-filled out forms of what they know (basically what's been sent in from your employer(s)) so that you could just take the pre-filled form, check it over, make any additions or changes as necessary and submit it. Apparently, many places that have done this have had great success with it. But it's not happening in the US in large part due to heavy lobbying from Intuit, who fears (perhaps correctly) that this would put a big dent into its tax preparation software business. Of course, that's not how Intuit puts it. The company first claims that this functionality is "already available" (it's not) and that it is a "conflict of interest for government to be both tax collector and tax preparer." However, that is also inaccurate. No one is asking the government to be the tax preparer, but just to share the information it already has so that individuals aren't forced to rebuild the info themselves. As one person quoted in the article notes, it's "as if Visa sent customers a blank piece of paper, requiring that they assemble their receipts, list their purchases -- and pay a fine if they forget one." So, everyone, thank Intuit for making tax season that much more frustrating.
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