Keep in mind that this would generally only apply to people who are taking the standard deductions. The IRS may be able to pre-fill your returns with W-2 or investment related 1099 information. But if you’re a freelancer, or own rental properties, or donated to charity, or have a child in college etc., you’re going to want to itemize your deductions for maximum benefit.
There is no conceivable way for the IRS to pre-populate the relevant information for all of these cases. For example, many major charities still give donors hand signed receipts for donations of physical items. Rental properties can have multiple owners, and the IRS may not be able to discern if they are spouses etc.
If you actually have a simple tax situation, there are plenty of free filing options: https://freefilealliance.org/.
TurboTax isn’t cheap, but if you have a complex tax situation, the fact that their software takes you through every possible deduction can lead to real savings. YMMV, but this has been the case for me.
That’s all anyone is asking for. This is exactly how taxes work in most of the modern world: you’re sent a prefilled form which is already completely filled for the majority of people, and you only need to confirm if it’s correct or edit if not.
> If you actually have a simple tax situation, there are plenty of free filing options: https://freefilealliance.org
Which is headed by Intuit and designed in a way to purposely make the options as difficult to understand and use as possible so that people buy Intuit products. Google to read any number of articles which go into this in detail.
I don’t remember the process taking very long? Maybe there’s disinformation out there, but it was my experience that once you’ve actually found a free filing option, the process involves entering maybe a dozen numbers.
And "a dozen" fields for the common case is still absolutely ridiculous. Here the "common case" e-filing requires exactly three fields: your personal number, your password, and your password again after you've confirmed everything.
Even the time they got it wrong (an employer was missing) it took.. two extra numbers: their org no. and the total pay.
At the same time, I think there’s some tendency towards exaggeration on how hard someone who derived all their income from a single W-2 has to work to file taxes.
Your W-2 alone has 20 boxes, albeit usually a dozen are actually used. When you file using a free online service, they have to ask you if you’re filing jointly, if you have dependents etc. A dozen fields is not a lot of work when you’re literally retyping information from a paper form. It’s tedious, but not particularly time consuming. It took me maybe an hour, part of which was just getting my pay stubs and W-2 out.
You log on to a website, and if you're just taking a standard deduction, you can basically just next, next, finish your way through the whole thing, and just verify everything is correct.
And of course, if your taxes are more complicated, the options for you to itemize or whatever you want are right in front of you.
Most standard deduction people can have their taxes completed and filed in 1-2 minutes.
I've never heard of a good argument not to try and make things easier on people, and "free options exist", is kind of a lame excuse because it requires that people know about these first, and second requires people to trust third parties with sensitive information, which not everyone is chomping at the bit to do.
However, I think you're underselling the nuance on quite a few of your arguments.
> You realize what you're talking about (pre-filling data).. is exactly how the majority of the industrialized world do taxes.
If you're talking about "return-free" filing, sure, quite a few countries do this: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/what-other-coun.... Note that these countries operate under far simpler tax systems. "Britain’s Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system, which has incorporated exact withholding since the 1940s, has several features that facilitate return-free filing. One is that it treats the individual (rather than the family) as the unit of taxation. Another is that a large proportion of taxpayers (64 percent) are taxed at the same “basic” marginal rate."
If you're referring to tax information being fully filled out, only 8 of the 35 OECD countries do so (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/03/the-10-...).
> You log on to a website, and if you're just taking a standard deduction, you can basically just next, next, finish your way through the whole thing, and just verify everything is correct.
See this piece from the Tax Foundation, https://taxfoundation.org/pre-filled-forms-solution-tax-comp.... The Tax Foundation has a center-right political leaning, but I think point 1 is a valid one, point 3 may or may not be. One of the advantages to using tax preparation software is that you can compare scenarios. Does it make sense to claim your college student child as a dependent? Should I itemize?
It's unclear to me what incentives the government has as the preparer of your taxes. Should they aim to collect the maximum amount of revenue? Or, should they guarantee the taxpayer the smallest possible tax burden? For grey areas, like whether your home office really qualifies as a place of business, should they pre-populate the return in a way to maximize your return?
> And of course, if your taxes are more complicated, the options for you to itemize or whatever you want are right in front of you.
You're basically suggesting that the government build online tax software with the same functionality as a TurboTax or other tax software. This is something that no government currently offers. Most OECD countries do not offer the litany of tax deductions that we have in the US. Most of these countries have no college tax credit, no mortgage interest deduction, no HSAs etc.
Some 44 million households (30.1% of the total) choose to itemize their deductions (https://taxfoundation.org/who-itemizes-deductions/). Particularly for anyone who's upper-middle class or richer, you're going to want to itemize your deductions. If you look at the sales numbers of tax software, we're looking at ~60 million copies of tax preparation software sold annually (https://www.vox.com/2016/3/29/11320386/turbotax-boycott-lobb...). So sure, there's some number of people, say ~16 million households, who should be filing a free standard deduction, but aren't for one reason or another.
The complexity of the US tax code makes what you're suggesting a complicated and difficult task. See for example, this comparison of US vs foreign tax codes (https://www.npr.org/2017/04/03/522440141/author-looks-to-oth...).
I think we agree on the basic goal of having a simpler filing option that works for the majority of people. But no other tax authority in the world has to contend with the maze of US tax law. Your own vision of an online system that lets people work through each deduction belies the fact that the US tax system is not particularly suited to the proverbial one postcard tax return.
Edit to add: I just realized the original comment might not have been said maliciously, and simply pointing out the ex-CEO was positioning himself well, if he was also part of the lobbying efforts - and if he owns stock still then it could benefit him.
But it seems we should be far beyond Denial and Anger stage and well into Bargaining and Guilt at this point. Don't worry, he'll join the chorus of "blockchain is good, Bitcoin is bad" rhetoric soon enough.
I can hold money in a checking account and have the same amount of money next week, or next month
Inflation is largely predictable, and pretty much non-existant compared to crypto volatility
Fraud, phishing, and hacking will not cause me to lose my life savings. My mother is not technologically savvy at all. I would be terrified to let her keep any significant portion of her savings in a system where a hash with a typo will cost you you everything.
For as much as cryptocurrency supporters will harp about the evils of Wall Street; the explicit scams, pump and dumps, and market manipulation by 0.001% of crypto holders make Goldman Sachs look like a company of boy scouts. 2008 Financial recession? Ha, wait until you see what happens when Chinese mining pools decide it's time to weed out the small fish (ie, every other month or so). Sure, lecture me all you want about how the Federal Reserve is evil - but at least they don't prey on investors with explicit pump and dumps, useless ICOs, or that shit circus Tether.
Although there are certainly smart people working in the blockchain space - most cryptocurrency/blockchain supporters are needlessly confrontational, smug, have a limited understanding of economics or financial engineering, and use ad hominems when they're confronted by arguments they can't debate against.
From an economics and engineering perspective, there are a lot of holes in blockchain and crypto as a technology. This is reflected in the fact that there are currently no useful innovations built on blockchain, other than money laundering, and cryptocurrency (which has no inherent value itself).
More egregious is economists insistence that the continuous debasement of our currency combined with skyrocketing consumer debt and stagnant wages due to automation will not end badly. These are the same economists that couldn't possibly predict what would happen when bankers and creditors were allowed to produce billions in worthless financial derivatives and sell them as triple-A investments.
How is this not an ad hominem on its own? Easily the most hipocritical one I have seen in years too.
> Because transactions can be anonymous — law enforcement cannot easily trace who buys and sells — its use is dominated by illegal endeavors.
That's a no, no, and . Especially since later they write:
> The IRS recently ordered one major exchange to produce records of every significant transaction.
If you buy at one exchange and then transfer the coins to another to sell it would be harder for the IRS to match up and discover your profit/loss. Especially if you move the coins via several intermediaries and sell in a different country that is not under the IRS jurisdiction.
And I don't think exchanges will ever protect anyone if the LE asks, because of the know your customer rules (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_your_customer)
Seems like Harris spent around 20 working days as "PayPal Founding CEO" before he got figured out. Quite ridiculous.
Consider the quality of life that could've been achieved with the same energy cost, material cost, and eventual environmental cost--all so that nerds can collect Merkle pogs.
It's a nice sentiment about an idealistic world but ultimately meaningless beyond producing feelings of guilt for the target.
> It's a nice sentiment about an idealistic world but ultimately meaningless beyond producing feelings of guilt for the target.
Maybe the target should feel guilty for participating and spreading this scam?
Like, if the Bitcoin fans came out and said "Look, okay, we're basically just riding this super volatile security to take advantage of normies and rubes", that'd be fine. America has a long and storied tradition of honoring conmen.
The smug bullshit though? The idea that because they got lucky with some crackpot stupid 'net token scheme (of which there have been dozens over the years) and thus are clearly so superior to the plebes actually building things and powering the economy they take for granted?
It's a racket. It's always been a racket. Don't try to act like it isn't.
President of American Association of Buggy-Whip Manufacturers takes a strong stand against internal combustion engine, argues that the so-called “automobile” has “little grounding in theory” and that “results can vary widely based on the particular fuel that is used”