The IRS ain’t so evil, they sponsor free tax prep help program to give you assistance with your taxes. [IRS]

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  1. freshyill says:

    What they should do is make taxes easier to pay. I’ve got no problem with paying what I owe, but there should not be industries built up around paying taxes. Nobody makes money on helping me pay my electric bill or rent every month, so why can’t the IRS simplify things and make it easier to pay taxes?

  2. DMDDallas says:

    @freshyill: Blame congress. They created the messy tax code.

  3. ekthesy says:

    @freshyill:

    Taxes are pretty simple if your finances are comparatively simple. But I completely agree–the paperwork for even slightly complicated tax issues (e.g. charitable and other deductions, etc.) can get pretty arcane.

    Simple taxes requires only the ability to add and subtract. But I’m sensing that the average American’s ability to even do “simple taxes” is degrading as math skills are degrading. Anyone can add 15,000 and 21,000, but when it comes to tracking the numbers through your return I bet people make a lot of mistakes–we’re used to computers taking care of everything for us.

    Of course, this is from the perspective of someone who sits down with the 1040A booklet, the W-2s, a sharp pencil and a calculator. Most people file online, I guess, which obviates the need for any skill beyond data entry.

  4. Tux the Penguin says:

    @DMDDallas: Amen. The industries that have built up around them are not what they used to be. Twenty years ago if you needed help on your taxes, you went to a local CPA and he helped you with them. Then the “chains” opened up and now most CPAs only deal with partnerships, LLCs, etc and high-dollar returns. Gone are the days when the CPA would simply explain the form to you.

    But its also important to remember that as complicated as the personal income tax rules are, they’ve even worse for businesses. That’s why E&Y, Deloitte, PWC, KPMG, Grant Thornton and all the other accounting firms, at least their tax sides, exist. Its easier to pay someone to do the tax return than hire and employee people to do the same.

  5. KJones says:

    Here’s every tax agency’s dream tax form:

    [my.opera.com]

  6. freshyill says:

    @ekthesy: In the past, I’ve usually been able to handle it myself, but even online, I might go through the whole thing two or three times before I’m convinced I haven’t entirely screwed it up. For the past year, I’ve worked in New Jersey and lived in New York, so I got two W2 forms this year so I can file state taxes in both. On top of that, I made a lot more money this year than in previous years. I’m not even going to bother trying myself this year. My taxes probably aren’t all that complicated in the grand scheme of things, but my parents have a friend who is an accountant, and he’s going to cut me a good break. I’d just rather not screw it up.

  7. catskyfire says:

    The IRS would like to make it nice and simple. But the tax code is created by Congress and it is anything BUT simple.

    Taxes are easiest for those of us who have very little. I have no house, no children, no unusual bills. Boom, I’m done. Filed last night, even.

  8. diamondmaster1 says:

    @catskyfire: I’m with you there; I got my W2 yesterday, and filed in under 15mins using Turbotax. There’s nothing particularly hard about taxes if your financial life is simple to the point of ridiculous.

  9. sargent1 says:

    Great… but if they give you bad advice for whatever reason… you still get stuck with the penalties.

  10. drharris says:

    I have resorted to just filing the 1040EZ. Standard deduction, filing single, it’s the way to go. I may pay a bit more to the government, but I’ll never have to go through a stressful audit, weeks of filling out forms and schedules, and I can file as soon as I get my W2s, so I get an early refund. I’m just hoping the fairtax or other flat tax gets a bit more attention, rendering April 15 just another day.

  11. LiC says:

    Well, the IRS has also provided a link on their site for all the poor people to find a free federal e-filer.
    [www.irs.gov]

    That’s helpful – and whatever the IRS is doing to answer questions so is H&R Block.

  12. primechuck says:

    This has been the case for a long time. If you qualify for a 1040EZ or don’t make enough money to pay taxes after the standard deduction there have been free prep services for a while.

    The real problem is, if you actually make money, or are poor and qualify for tax rebates you need to make sure you first know about the deduction or rebate, file the right paper work for it, then do the proper worksheet and fill in the correct number of the form.

    Without the 16th amendment being repealed, personal income tax will be a horrible pain until they day you die….and pay the estate tax.

  13. NereusRen says:

    Figured I’d re-write the headline to be more accurate:

    “The IRS is so evil, they spend your money on a tax prep help program to give other people assistance with their taxes.”

    After all, it’s not actually free, is it? Unless the people who develop and administer it are all volunteers, there is a cost… it’s just not borne by the people who use the service. Whether or not you think that’s a good idea, it’s better to avoid perpetuating misleading language.

  14. How nice to get assistance reaching for your wallet while a gun is pointed in your face.

  15. wring says:

    Taxcut Online is screwy this year. My return was denied and customer support blamed the iRS. When I called the IRS, my return wasn’t even successfully transmitted. Ended up filing through Turbotax and didn’t have a problem.

  16. ex-IRS says:

    Avoid filing your tax return electroniically!

    The IRS used to hire employees as data transcribers to transcribe/input tax returns filed on paper but as more and more people file electronically, the IRS has hired fewer data transcribers.

    What taxpayers don’t realize is that it means the IRS has successfully outsourced most of their data transcribing function to the taxpayer, who gets to pay (software cost and/or e-filing fees) for the privilege of what the IRS used to pay employees to do. Also, despite this cost being passed on to taxpayers as a hidden user fee, tax rates have not gone down and IRS customer service has not improved, if not gotten worse.

    Also, there is not much of a time difference in getting a refund by e-filing as opposed to filing a tax return on paper, maybe 2 weeks and for that the software cost/e-filing fee is very high on an annual basis.

    I don’t know if they still offer this free service but if you had a very simple return, you could send in your info and tax documents to the IRS and ask them to prepare your tax return. They would mail back a completed tax return for you to sign and then you would sign it and mail it back to them for processing.