Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Would You Let the I.R.S. Prepare Your Taxes? (2015) (nytimes.com)
312 points by ColinWright 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 424 comments



I'm annoyed that there is no simple system for the IRS to tell me what I owe, and let me pay or dispute.

Instead, we play this game where the IRS provides a bunch of complicated documents, I guess which ones to fill out and submit, then wait 3 years to see if I was randomly chosen to see if I was correct. So it's very easy to make a mistake for dozens of years, then suddenly be penalized at random. It's the worst kind of selective enforcement - random enforcement.

And this is to help H&R Block and others sell "tax insurance", just in case you're randomly selected for audit and H&R Block was also wrong about which tax documents to submit.

The IRS have all the data - from employers, banks, Social Security, unemployment, and other government services. I might have most or all of the data, and could verify or contest items they have on file. Edit: So the IRS may not always have all of the data, and would still need a way for us to submit documents in some edge cases.


The IRS has actually run trials like this in the past. Very successful, at least for simply W2-based returns, since most people's taxable transactions get reported by companies anyway (i.e., mortgages/interest, other income, etc.) and most people use the standardized deduction.

Inuit and Quicken subsequently lobbied to end those programs and even bar the IRS from running similar programs...


There was an interesting Planet Money episode about this [0].

Apparently the lobbying by Intuit is actually fairly minor compared to the opposition by Republicans. Some group of Republican legislators came together and agreed to oppose all tax increases, and also agreed to oppose many types of tax simplification. The thinking being that the more painful filing your taxes is, the more people will have a negative perception of taxes in general and be opposed to tax increases.

[0] https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/03/22/521132960/epis...


Most Republican "flat tax" ideas have tax simplification as a major selling point (e.g. Ted Cruz talking about filing your taxes on a postcard); if you can simplify the implementation of the existing tax schedule, you lose that selling point.


Flat tax doesn't even simplify anything. The problem with taxes is to determine what the taxable income is. Figuring out the tax rate is trivial once you have that, no matter what the curve is. Flat tax is just another attempt to give big tax breaks to higher incomes.


    > Flat tax doesn't even simplify anything.
Yes it does, depending on the implementation. There's a 2005 Economist article which does a good job of summarizing why[1].

BEGIN QUOTE

Fewer brackets are simpler to administer, but one bracket is simplest of all. Under a pure flat tax, the taxman takes the same cut from the last dollar you earn that he took from the first. The appeal to high earners is obvious. But the administrative elegance of such a system is not so immediately apparent. Because every dollar is taxed at the same rate, it does not matter to the tax collector how many dollars are going to whom. Thus, in principle, the taxman could simply withhold 20% of a company's payroll, without needing to know who was paid what. Add a second rate of tax, however, or a personal exemption, and the tax collector must find out how much money is going into each pay packet before he can be sure of collecting the right amount from the right person. In America, for example, the tax collector needs to tax the wage packets of 130m or more employees, rather than simply taxing the payrolls of 8m or so enterprises.

END QUOTE

The mistake you're making is assuming that the tax system can only be simplified on the individual level, but as the quote above demonstrates this isn't true.

Certain changes to the tax code do entirely away with the need for the government to exhaustively audit large parts of the economy.

Another quote from the article demonstrating such a case:

BEGIN QUOTE

In Canada, Australia and the European Union, for example, staple foods, but not restaurant meals, are exempted from value-added tax. [Therefore] hot roast chicken is taxed, but cold roast chicken is not. “Does anyone expect tax administrators and business owners to have thermometers on hand when they do their tax calculations?”

END QUOTE

In this example, by progressively taxing food you're creating the accounting problem that the government theoretically has to track economic activity down to the level of whether a chicken was warm or not when it was sold.

Simplifying the tax code does away with needing to solve that problem entirely, and eliminates some of the current incentives for tax avoidance and other fraud.

1. https://www.economist.com/special-report/2005/04/14/the-case...


The parent's comment still applies. If the progressive brackets were just swapped for a flat tax, the tax man still needs to know how much each employee had as deductibles, e.g. number of dependents, donations to charity, mortgage interest, etc.


> The parent's comment still applies. If the progressive brackets were just swapped for a flat tax, the tax man still needs to know how much each employee had as deductibles, e.g. number of dependents, donations to charity, mortgage interest, etc.

No, because the idea behind a flat tax is to eliminate most or all of those deductions, the same way they've already been eliminated for people who pay AMT instead of normal income tax.


True in theory, but virtually every mainstream "flat tax" that actually gets to the stage of having a concrete proposal acknowledges the need for deductions. I don't recall ever seeing a true flat tax.


There's flat tax proposals and implementations at every level of the economy in different countries, not all of them have to do with income tax.

E.g. the case of the warm and cold chicken being taxed at different rates, as described in the linked Economist article.

It's common in places with such a distinction in the tax code for some stores to sell packaged cold food clearly intended to be eaten on the go, and then to conveniently offer a customer-operated microwave on-site partly as a way to avoid paying a tax that distinguishes between food sold as groceries v.s. take-away food.

I'm not advocating for flat taxes, but it is correct to say that such proposals in general do away with such emergent absurdities, and decrease the need for government bureaucracy.


This thread is specifically talking about tax plans from Republicans in the US Congress.


That there are gray areas (groceries vs restaurants) that can be difficult or because the math is slightly more challenging are not persuasive arguments, to me. As universal as a "flat" income tax having deductions are sales taxes having exemptions, so they also are never "flat" in practice either.


And at that point, you've pretty much acknowledged that a true flat tax is unfair and regressive, and now we're just arguing over how many tax brackets there should be. You want there to be 1 but propose 2 with no argument for why 2 is the optimal number. While I agree that there is marginal complexity with each one, that only affects people who do their own taxes by hand. Structure it so that most people are covered by the bottom 4, say, and I have no problem with a dozen or more.


> While I agree that there is marginal complexity with each one, that only affects people who do their own taxes by hand.

The complexity of the formula generating the lookup table doesn't affect the users of the lookup table, so I disagree: number of brackets has no meaningful effect on complexity of manual preparation.


"No, because the idea behind a flat tax is to eliminate most or all of those deductions,"

Removing deductions has nothing to do with the tax curve. You could do that with the current curve and tweak it accordingly.


Sure it does, because if you have deductions, your effective tax rate isn't actually flat.


> Removing deductions has nothing to do with the tax curve. You could do that with the current curve and tweak it accordingly.

In theory, but (serious) advocates of the flat tax generally are proposing both.


My impression is that most advocates want the flat part which reduces taxes on high incomes and then are pretty hand wavy about deductions.


This might be the case in the US, but be aware that most advocates of flat taxes globally - including almost all economists who do so - advocate precisely for removing deductions.

In New Zealand, for example, all prominent advocates of flat taxes are also proponents of not following Australia or the UK's example of having GST/VAT exemptions for some categories of goods.


In fact, removing itemized deductions alone would do this, because the standard deduction is mathematically equivalent to a 0% bracket.

Alternately, you could even have a progressive, flat tax with a standard deduction of $150,000 and like a 40% rate. I’m surprised the Democrats haven’t proposed that just as a publicity stunt.


Deductions are not entirely equivalent to a 0% bracket in a progressive tax scheme, they come out of top bracket income.

So high earners get a larger tax reduction from deductions than low earners. There's not really a way to do that with a 0% bracket (and in fact we have both a 0% bracket and deductions).


That works fine for salaries and whatnot, but even without outright deductions, you would still have to compute net income in a lot of situations, including individual proprietorships and capital gains.


That's true. I never said the Ted Cruz postcard gimmick was honest; if it was honest, then it couldn't be sabotaged by simplifying the taxpayer experience for the existing schedule of rates and deductions.


100%. Taxable income should be gross income. That would make everything so easy.


The problem is the existing tax schedule isn’t so clear. Depreciation of assets for example. By “simplifying” tax filing without simplifying the underlying calculations, there is far less public visibility of just how broken the tax system is. A flat tax is closer to good than our current system. People that oppose flat taxes do so because they want other people to pay more. It’s that simple.

See what Milton Friedman had to say about tax code complexity. TLDR: it gives politicians the ability to curry favor or punish and it’s the source of their real power. The power to tax is the power to destroy. A flat tax with a single standard deduction effectively declaws the government from being able to pick winners and losers based on from whom the campaign donations come.


> By “simplifying” tax filing without simplifying the underlying calculations, there is far less public visibility of just how broken the tax system is.

That's a decently idealistic viewpoint, but "complicated" doesn't necessarily mean "broken". For example, pretty much all Unix-style operating systems have not only a ton of now-unnecessary code to handle text I/O from 1960's teletype machines, but they even come with a "terminal emulator" that literally emulates the behavior of a 1960's teletype machine. That's how the command line works. You would never design it that way from the start, it's complicated, it's crufty, and it's vaguely horrifying, and yet it works and solves virtually all of the real problems that real people would have with that system. Just like letting the IRS fill out the first draft of your tax return.


> A flat tax is closer to good than our current system.

No, it's not.

> People that oppose flat taxes do so because they want other people to pay more. People that oppose flat taxes do so because they want other people to pay more. It’s that simple.

Some of the richest people oppose the flat tax. And they do so because they want people poorer than themselves to pay less than they would in a flat tax scheme funding the same services.

> See what Milton Friedman had to say about tax code complexity. TLDR: it gives politicians the ability to curry favor or punish and it’s the source of their real power.

Maybe Friedman said that, but it's wrong; the monopoly on violence does that, and the tax system isn't particularly special among the avenues by which the power that monopoly grants can be applied.


> The thinking being that the more painful filing your taxes is, the more people will have a negative perception of taxes in general and be opposed to tax increases.

This is exactly the reason I do my taxes by hand on paper every year.


>Inuit and Quicken subsequently lobbied to end those programs and even bar the IRS from running similar programs...

They did the same thing in Canada too btw.


Nearly everyone I've talked to (on both sides of the political spectrum) agrees on this issue; if the IRS has the means to verify and audit the data, they might as well prepare the forms and just get authorization (+ any additional info they might be lacking) before tax returns are submitted.

So how is it that lobbying alone is enough to persuade lawmakers to take the side of Intuit et al.? And which lawmakers are so easily "bought" at the detriment of the public? I'm just as pessimistic as anyone when it comes to the corruption of our government, but this seems like a pretty black and white issue. There must be more to it...


The preference of average citizens appears to be almost immaterial to what Congress actually does. Instead, interest groups and rich people are the ones who win. E.g.: https://www.vox.com/2014/4/18/5624310/martin-gilens-testing-...


There are also 1.2 million tax preparers in the US. I'm not going to vote for somebody who has the wrong opinion on, e.g., abortion just because they're going to make my taxes easier but if the change to taxes was going to eliminate my job I'd feel differently.

Also, the complex nature of the US tax code means that the people who've put effort into gaming the system and the dishonest also stand to lose if move to a more reasonable system.

So it's really not just about the campaign contributions but actual substantial interest groups.


You can't have a right or wrong opinion, its just an opinion.


Of course you can. It's a matter of perspective. From your viewpoint, someone else that has an opposing opinion has the "wrong" opinion. That's what GP was saying.

Maybe it would have been clearer if they said "position" instead?


It appears your opinion on the matter is wrong.


It's just a manner of expression, they simply mean someone they disagree with.


Lobbying + campaign contributions. + the knowledge that as long as they don't change the situation, they'll be able to expect future campaign contributions.


I agree that may be a factor in more controversial issues where siding with lobbyists doesn't come at the cost of alienating a huge majority of your constituents. This seems different.

Almost everyone (from what I understand) agrees, so it's a pretty clear case where we should be able to call out those lawmakers and say "you're obviously only doing this for the money/job security - you can't even pretend to be against it on principle."


There are many issues that are in similar spots. The go to strategy to deal with those has been to either:

(1) ignore it completely if it's not getting sufficient media coverage to cause outrage or (2) control the coverage by making it seem as if the public is divided, typically using various forms of poor (but effective) arguments, statistically invalid polling, and research that only gets published if it produces the desired result

I'd say this falls into the first category.


Maybe lobbying and the current rules about campaign finance are undemocratic and should be changed, but meantime where's the lobbying group where we can donate to advocate for tax simplification?

I used to think it was Americans for Tax Reform, now I think Tax Policy Center is the closest thing, but while Bankman has worked a lot with them in the past, in this article they seem at least ambivalent if not opposed to it.

Any other suggestions of which nonprofit lobbying organizations can be used to offset the impact of Americans for Tax Reform, Intuit, and other organizations who favor tax complexification?


> So how is it that lobbying alone is enough to persuade lawmakers to take the side of Intuit et al.?

The lobbying is a big part, but the other part is anti-tax ideologues in Congress want to keep the tax process as painful as possible so that people are as angry as possible about taxes, to maximize support for and engagement on anti-tax policies.


If a policy would bring a small benefit to a large number of people, but a large loss to a small number, the small group is much more motivated to fight against the policy, and will often win. This is why it is generally not possible to abolish special programs, shrink the size of the government, etc.

Also note that the "pure flat tax" idea earlier in this discussion and the "universal basic income" idea discussed elsewhere on this website have the same problem: the promised simplification comes from eliminating a bunch of special programs, exemptions, benefits etc., which is impossible.


Fun fact. Intuit spent just $2.4 million on lobbying per year and $775,000 on campaign contributions: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000026667&c.... If their lobbying dollars are what caused the IRS to stop those programs, you could "outbid" them with just a Kickstarter.

Intuit and friends are a red herring: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/grover-norquist/grover-norqui...


I've been told by people that have been involved with lobbying that it's way cheaper than you'd expect. Almost a million in the right congressional races can buy you a lot of stalling in congress.

Also, IMHO, few people have messed up US tax policy like Grover Norquist. Even if you don't agree with that particular humble opinion, he is, at the very least, a figure with his own agenda to push. He's far from an unbiased source.


I've been told by people that have been involved with lobbying that it's way cheaper than you'd expect. Almost a million in the right congressional races can buy you a lot of stalling in congress.

My take on this remains what it's been for decades (offensive words, but I'm not sure what would fit better) :

"I'm not surprised that politicians are whores. I'm horribly disappointed that they're cheap sleazy whores."


A million dollars can be an entire Congressional race in most of the country.


They are not a red herring. California tried to do this, and its a Democratic state, not swayed by Grover Norquist, but Intuit blocked it.

https://www.npr.org/2017/03/29/521954033/stanford-professor-...


This doesn’t pass the smell test. With $35,000, he almost managed to get Ready Return in CA? We could raise that much just in this thread. If money was the sticking point, it would’ve happened already.

And California may lean blue on the federal level, but it is a very anti-tax state (Prop 13, etc.).


> California [...] a Democratic state, not swayed by Grover Norquist

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is one of the most powerful political groups in the state and has been doing the same schtick as Norquist (though, when Jarvis was alive, under a different name), since Norquist was still in college.


California wasn't always pure blue. But the effort the parent described is from 2004, so what matters are the politics of modern CA.


> California wasn't always pure blue.

It's not pure blue, now, either, and more to the point, the Democrats in the California electorate are not a hive mind of stereotypes.

> But the effort the parent described is from 2004, so what matters are the politics of modern CA.

The Norquist-before-Norquist Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is one of the most powerful political forces in modern California, too.

(Also, in 2004, California was less bright blue than modern CA; it had just recalled the Democratic governor and elected a Republican replacement, after all.)


While I'm sure that most tax prep companies have lobbied similarly, this is why I don't use TurboTax and other Intuit products.


> Inuit and Quicken subsequently lobbied to end those programs and even bar the IRS from running similar programs...

Is this true or an urban legend?


It is true.

This is one of the reasons i provide to Intuit recruiters when they try and get me to interview for them. I am not working for the company actively working against my best interests.

We in the tech community don't always have the luxury to work for a company who we absolutely love and respect, but I draw the line when it comes to companies that actively engage in this type of concerted effort against citizens.



How do you tell which bills were targeted with their lobbying dollars?

In 2016 Intuit's revenue was something like $4.7 billion. And they spent $2 million lobbying against bills that threaten the fundamental nature of their business?

That seems absurdly low to me.


> How do you tell which bills were targeted with their lobbying dollars?

It looks like this information is published by the senate under the "Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995"

https://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=getFilingDetails&...

opensecrets.org has a more easily-browsed index linking to the senate reports: https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/lobby.php?id=D000022016


It turns out buying votes in Congress is actually quite cheap.


Why overspend if you don’t need to?


I'm citizen of Austria and resident of the United States.

Austrian tax returns are much simpler because in the majority of cases they don't exist: Your employer and your banks automatically withhold the correct amount of taxes (capital gains are taxed at a flat rate and don't influence regular income taxes). Marriage status doesn't matter for income tax as the same tax brackets apply to everyone. Deductions are much less common but if you have any deductions you can let the government know and they'll automatically refund your tax within a week or so.

One reason why Austrian taxes are so much simpler is because there are much fewer special cases: The US has all those different credits and deductions that lower the taxes in certain situations, e.g., the "First-time homebuyer credit repayment". Meanwhile in Austria all those subsidies for, e.g., lower income people aren't included in the tax system, but are available via completely separate programs (e.g., if your income is very low the government pays parts of your rent and helps you with heating costs in the winter, but you have to submit a separate application for that).

Not sure which system is better. One thing I noticed is that in Austria I never applied for any subsidies even while being a low-income student (why would I apply for social services if I don't really need them?). Meanwhile in the US my tax advisor makes sure that I get all the credits and deductions that I'm eligible for.


Australian here (we speak English and have kangaroos, not in the towns to be clear but they do outnumber the people). Australian personal tax returns are getting easier and easier with the move to electronic filing combined with pre-filling of income from employers and financial institutions. Log onto MyGov, check the pre-filled information which is about 90% of what you need then figure out the remaining special cases such as charitable donations, work related expenses and you are done. Accountants and tax filing firms are nervous and a bit worried but not showing that publicly or apparently lobbying.


As another Australian, can confirm. This year's tax return was as easy as logging into MyGov, verifying my contact details, confirming that the wage payments report from my employer was accurate, entering a previously-calculated number into the "capital gains" field, and pressing "submit". Took less than 10 minutes.

The only non-trivial bits are things like capital gains, work expenses, donations, but these are all things that you should be tracking in a spreadsheet as they occur through the year, and you'll have a number at the bottom of that spreadsheet that you can just copy over to your return (like I did with my capital gains, for example).

Even as a contractor in the past (keep in mind, in Australia, a contractor is a sole proprietor business), filing my return was as easy as copying income/expense totals from my invoice/receipt tracking spreadsheets into the return, adding any new depreciating assets to the list (that persists on their servers and gets recalculated each year) and submitting.

I don't have any interest accounts or private health insurance, but these would be some of the other things that get automatically pre-filled. And it's been this way for well over a decade now.


Germany is almost there too. Most of your taxes are paid automatically.

The only thing you have to worry about is the end of year form. What you submit is usually a good first suggestion and the german IRS equivalent will send back a proposal. If you don't do anything, that's what they collect.

Of course, the tax forms in germany are rather... complicated, there is a lot of pitfalls, though generally unless nobody at the IRS spots it either, you'll get a correction back.


> It's the worst kind of selective enforcement - random enforcement.

Very similar to the way police behave w/ regards to speeding tickets. Set extremely low speeds that don't make sense on highways. Allow most people to go 10-15 above. But then also sometimes choose random people to screw over when it's the end of the month and they need to hit their quotas.


Except it isn't random. Some cops just look for the fastest cars while others will look for out of state license plates. And some will even go as far as basing it off of the demographics of the driver. We would never tolerate a speed limit that allows difference races to go different max speeds, but allowing selective enforcement by cops enables any cop to do this.


Speed is just a red herring anyway; as you said it's all about selective enforcement.

I'd rather there were NOT any speed limit enforcement at all UNLESS there's another infraction.

Even more ideally self-driving cars would just save us. However until then I'd prefer that laws like Washington State's 'keep right except to pass' were strongly enforced.


>However until then I'd prefer that laws like Washington State's 'keep right except to pass' were strongly enforced.

I recently drove from Tuscon, AZ to Cleveland, OH. All 8 states I drove through have them, but somewhere around Misouri signs get smaller and less frequent, and they stop being strictly enforced. Ohio recently started pushing to enforce this law. It seems as exits get more frequent and less lanes are available, (road maintenance in 4 season territory costs a lot, so there are more 2 lane highway spans than 3-4) lots of drivers decide that the speed limit +x MPH is fast enough for everyone, FU if you're behind me. I'd guess it added +/- 8 hours to the trip.


> some will even go as far as basing it off of the demographics of the driver

My experience as a young lad with a high powered Nissan Skyline certainly reflected this many years ago. I had almost-daily "random vehicle and license checks"...


Exactly right. Michelle Alexander explains these racial consequences of selective law enforcement in The New Jim Crowe.


>Set extremely low speeds that don't make sense on highways. Allow most people to go 10-15 above.

I doubt people really speed because the limits have been set too low and the people know better what is an ideal speed limit.

I think people_think_ they know better what the speed limit is, and/or reason "well if 60mph is okay, 75 mph can't be that bad, I'm barely speeding and I'm in a rush". At least, that's the attitude I've seen with people who regularly speed.

If you were to raise the speed limit to 75mph, people would just use the same logic to drive 90mph instead.


I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding about how people drive. People don't look at a speed limit and then drive 15 over; they drive the speed they feel comfortable with, regardless of the speed limit. Studies have shown this:

Q. Wouldn’t everyone drive faster if the speed limit was raised? A. No, the majority of drivers will not go faster than what they feel is comfortable and safe regardless of the speed limit. For example, an 18-month study following an increase in the speed limit along the New York Thruway from 55 to 65 mph, determined that the average speed of traffic, 68 mph, remained the same. Even a national study conducted by Federal Highway Administration also concluded that raising or lowering the speed limit had practically no effect on actual travel speeds

https://www.motorists.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/speed-l...


> they drive the speed they feel comfortable with, regardless of the speed limit

My anecdata does not support this. When roads are not congested, I can see that most drivers accelerate from ~70+mph to ~80+mph right ofter the speed limit sign changes from 60 to 70.


I think what you're seeing is that most people know that up to 10mph over the limit is pretty safe in regards to getting a speeding ticket.

That's separate from how fast they think is safe on the freeway in general from a physical standpoint. If there were no limits posted, they'd go even faster.

So basically I'm saying that both you and the parent poster are both correct. It's just that more than just physical safety is being taken into account.


The claim that the average speed at which people drive depends on the speed limit, and the claim that it does not, cannot both be correct.


They're both correct, or both wrong, in that both of their reasonings are correct in having a noticeable effect on thd outcome, while their conclusion may not be.


Yes, because they are comfortable at higher speeds than what is posted. Just that they'd rather only drive +10mph of what's posted to avoid speeding tickets.


Usually when the speed limit bumps up from 55 to 65, it means the stretch of highway is actually more safe. Whether it is a long straight away with few on/off ramps, or the end of construction - the jump in speed limit usually does correspond to the level of safety of the upcoming stretch of roadway.


Well, they have a speed they're comfortable with, AND an amount over the limit by which they feel (legally) 'safe' at.

All this proves is that they don't want to go much more than 10 over the limit, AND the speed at which they feel safe is at least (but maybe higher than!) 80mph.


I wonder if there is some kind of "steady state" vs "transition" effect that could explain this though. For instance, if you put up a sign that changed the speed limit from 70 to 80 but changed nothing else about the road, would you see an initial increase and then decrease after a few miles? Although I'd also guess that in reality if the speed limit changes to 80, there's probably other characteristics of the road that change so that the steady state might not regress back in this instance.


As somebody who is ideologically predisposed against speed limits, bullshit.

If you've ever gone much faster than is customary for a road (say 110mph following a cop), and then slowed down to say 90mph, it will feel quite slow. If you then don't set about consciously lowering your speed, you will even find yourself creeping back up.

Humans are notoriously bad at perceiving what-if dangers and being aware of our own limitations. The level of difficulty we perceive is what's required to keep up with the expected - road curves, passing other predicable cars, etc - not because we're anticipating surprises.

Another example is outdriving one's headlights - either the sheer amount of deer that get hit, or when you flip on your high beams in a fog and actually become aware of how little you could see.


As someone who's driven over distances that had notably higher speed limits (EG 75 MPH in extremely rural areas), I have found that /in those areas/ the speed I went //without// looking at the dashboard was more or less very close to the actual speed limit. I was actually driving at the real speed that is safe for a typical small car on such a road in 'ideal' conditions.


Were you able to reproduce this effect on analogous 55mph/65mph roads? Are you sure you aren't just used to driving 75mph on highways in general (ie you're not from Seattle), and found speed limit signs that actually matched?

Driving through rural areas you must have experienced the sudden ~30mph sign, signifying a town coming up. Did this "drive what you feel" approach line up there too? When the town was at the bottom of a hill?

For context, I've done around 25k miles cross-country non-interstate. I've concluded that what the individual states choose to sign as the general maximums has more to do with local culture and politics than with general terrain.


You've thrown out quite a number of different topics, and some of the questions you're asking might also lead anyone who can contribute to a discussion about speed limits being set at safe speeds to admit to having committed what is currently a crime because of an incorrectly calibrated "limit".

With respect to the engineering safety of the sudden 30mph sign (which I assume is in a rural area on an otherwise small highway); yes that sounds like you're describing what is typically called a "speed trap". A real traffic safety engineering standard SHOULD call for a clearly posted and graduated reduction in speed as approaching the town at a /bare/ minimum. However, a true engineering solution would isolate the town and the highway entirely. The point of the highway is to be a high speed transit corridor and it is inefficient and unsafe to route such a thing through a dense residential or commercial area. Instead there should be an exit system that leads off to a side path for such a town. I would prefer an actual barrier that encloses the typical route and possibly caps or bridges over it (maybe with a park) for existing situations that have developed in days with less good planning. In any such cases a designated detour route should also be constructed such that it is possible for "oversized loads", emergency response teams, and post disaster travel to route around failure in the now enclosed sections.


My examples are pointing out possible edges of feeling safe equals safe envelope. And I don't think cops hang out on HN looking for anecdotes of speeding to investigate, nor are you going to get a black mark on your permanent LexisGoogle record from admitting that you have sped.

There are plenty of towns large enough for highway bypasses and traffic lights. The ones I'm talking about have one good road, maybe two if they're lucky enough to be the intersection. I indeed appreciate when there are graduated signs so I don't have to use the brakes, but this obviously costs money they don't all have, and isn't needed by people who already know the road. Talking about traffic engineering is laughable for such places - if your goal is to pass through as quick as possible, you could just take the interstate.


The only reason they do it with a single sign instead of many is because the town is a speed trap funded city.

If there was not revenue generation, if the fines were required to go only in to the state or federal general budget, I believe the situation would shift towards one of the safe engineering solutions I outlined above instead of the revenue generating status quo you see today.


I agree that people will tend to not drive faster than what they feel comfortable at. I have even heard stories about places around my old town where they drew the lanes closer together (width and lane length) to make it feel like you are going faster to get you to slow down and it has had positive effects on how fast people drive.

However, people have vastly different "feelings" for what is comfortable. I've been in multiple different driving experiences in an awd subaru where I was going 30 under the speed limit because the weather was terrible and people were flying past me in their 2wd cars.

Shit, I even had an experience where I and literally 75% of other cars full on stopped on the side of a highway with our hazard lights on because we couldn't see more than 200 feet in front of us and people were still driving 30 mph past us. I shit you not that was one of the scariest moments of my life because as the visibility got worse and worse, everyone starting putting on their hazard lights and going like 30, most cars turned off but we thought it was OK until the rain and fog got so bad the cars in front and behind us completely disappeared in the grey rain/fog. We drove for about a minute going like 25 MPH (I was slowing down to get more comfortable because I was freaking out) and I risked turning off onto the shoulder preying I didn't randomly ram one of the cars pulled off and we got lucky and were able to sit their until it got better.


I don’t think dismissing the parent comment based on a study is fair. Anecdotally, I drive the way the parent describes, and several comments also corroborate with that. Likely that a non negligible portion of the population drive this way.


I don’t think dismissing the parent comment based on a study is fair.

Well, there's a surprising turn of events on HN: an appeal to discard the findings of a study in favor of one poster's suppositions, and another's anecdata. :-)


The irony is def not lost on me ;)


If you look at the studies, they actually show this. There is a small percentage of drivers (something like 5-15%) that always try to drive at the speed limit, even if that is lower than the speed they would naturally drive at.

This is one of the reasons experts argue that you NEED to set the speed limit at the natural speed people will drive at; otherwise, you will have a big speed difference between the majority who drive at the comfortable, faster, speed, and the 15% who are driving slower at the speed limit. You want the two groups to drive at the same speed.


http://www.sehinc.com/news/truth-about-speed-limits-explaine...

There is no guarantee that a speed limit will have any effect on driving behaviors. The fact is, when driving, most motorists choose a speed in which they personally feel both comfortable and safe.


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobahn#Travel_speeds

on a free-flowing section in 1992, the recorded average speed was 132 km/h (82 mph) with 51% of drivers exceeding the recommended speed.

The autobahn has a long history proving that people feel comfortable and safe at excessive velocities.


Here in the Netherlands, and I think also in other places in Europe, 130 km/h is the normal highway speed limit, though in places it's at 120 or 100 instead. This was raised from some time ago, when the normal maximum was 120 instead of 130.

So it seems that 130 km/h (81 mph) is not all that excessive.


Are you suggesting those "excessive" velocities are not actually safe?


If you look at the stopping distances at 80+ mph I don't see how you can argue those speeds are safe.


https://www.thelocal.de/20160406/eight-things-you-never-knew...

While it may seem counter-intuitive, the Autobahn is safer than many motorways which have speed limits.

Whereas US interstates - with speed limits of 70 mph - have an average of 4.5 fatalities per billion kilometres travelled, the Autobahn only has a fatality rate of 2.7 per billion kilometres.


If you look at the low level of fatalities on the autobahn, I don't see how you can argue those speeds are unsafe.


It's a lot harder to get a license in Germany than in the US, and there's more of an expectation that you keep your vehicle in good repair. I could argue that the speed limit on the Autobahn is a result of selecting for more conscientious and capable drivers rather than proof that higher speeds are safe in general.


I'm not sure what it would mean for a speed to be "safe in general". What is the general case? Whether a particular speed is safe or not is situation dependent, and the situation absolutely includes the quality of the drivers and vehicles involved.


Which is essentially what I'm saying, that higher speeds on the Autobahn may be safe because the drivers are better and the cars are in better condition, but that that wouldn't work here in the US because our drivers aren't as competent and their cars are more likely to fail at Autobahn speeds.


Whereas, at 79mph, the stopping distances are positively miniscule!


The recommended speed on the Autobahn is 130 km/h, but in the unrestricted sections you can technically drive as fast as you want, conditions permitting. The fact that the average speed in an unrestricted section with light traffic was only 132 km/h suggests that the vast majority of drivers don't actually want to drive much faster than that.


The autobahn is different. The people who drive on the autobahn self select because they want to drive fast and they have a disproportionate number of cars that can handle the speed. I doubt I would have been driving my first car - a Mercury Tracer - on the autobahn.

But 80 miles per hour is not an abnormal speed on the highway.

The posted speed limit is so rarely enforced, that it still isn’t a deterrent. For instance, the speed limit on GA 400 is 70. But you’d better be in the slow lane if you only go 70mph.

https://www.11alive.com/article/news/local/commuters-respond...


I'm not sure I understand this point. The autobahn is just the German highway system. Do Germans who don't want to drive fast and don't own fast cars all emigrate to Denmark or something?


When most Americans talk abou the autobahn like this they actually mean the sections without speed restrictions


So do Germans who want to get from one city to another exit the Autobahn and drive on surface streets to avoid the de-restricted sections? Of course not.


They just get into the correct lane.


I thought it was understood in context and because Americans usually refer to "the Autobahn" as the parts without speed limits.


The criticism of your comment stands, regardless of whether you're talking about a section that is restricted vs derestricted.

Do people driving on derestricted sections self-select and have cars better able to handle the speeds? Does anyone in Germany only drive on restricted sections?

You comment as if the derestricted sections are just some racetrack in the middle of nowhere for which people self-select. No, they're just roads going from one place to another, like any other road. And Germany doesn't kick out citizens who don't want to drive fast, or offer easy citizenship for those who do.


> If you were to raise the speed limit to 75mph, people would just use the same logic to drive 90mph instead.

Luckily there are plenty of places that have done just that that we can learn from. WI just raised a lot of its highway speed limits to 70mph for example.

Anecdotally, people used to drive in the 75mph range before the speed limit was raised and would deal with the occasional ticket for 10 over. In the general case, the average highway speed seems to have stayed at 75mph after the change.

I've noticed something similar in South Dakota where the speed limit is 80. I rarely saw someone go more than 5 over, and would frequently encounter people driving at 75mph.


Also in Michigan, they just raised the speed limit on some Michigan expressways to 75 from 70 because they found that was the speed most people went.


Surprisingly enough, that tends to not be the case - http://www.sehinc.com/news/truth-about-speed-limits-explaine...

My personal anecdotal evidence on this, having recently driven cross country on I-80 (mostly 80MPH speed limits) and through Montana on I-90 (Again, mostly 80 MPH) shows that people drive at a speed that is safe for them. My car, and those that also seemed to drive a few MPH over the limit were all newer, highly capable vehicles, and the largest added risk was the chance of running into excessively slow moving traffic. When the visibility dropped, I slowed down, and when the visibility was clear, there was no additional risk in pushing it up a few MPH.


I live in a state that has 55 mph limit, and I've spent lots of time in states that have a 70mph limit. everyone drives the same speed regardless, around 75-80 on a straight and wide highway in the left lane, around 65 in the right lane. the sign means nothing.


Just my observation, in my state the highway speed limit is 80 and people drive at right around 80, and drop down to 75 at night. Then, on a Texas road where it was 85, I was surprised to see most people still going about 80. And in a neighboring state where the speed limit is 70 for similar roads, people still drive right around 80. And once I drove through Chicago at night through a stretch where the speed limit was 45, and people were still going 75 - 80... not sure what the deal with 80 is, but it seems to be the sweet spot a lot of the time.


it's the cars. the relative motion that is transferred into the cab, the handling, etc. back in the 70s/80s when folks drove huge metal deathtraps with barely any seatbelt that nobody wore anyway, on top of a giant floating weight distribution that would easily spin out, 80mph was an insanely high speed.


If you were to raise the speed limit to 75mph, people would just use the same logic to drive 90mph instead.

This is easily tested in the western U. S., where there exist states with speed limits of 75mph or higher. There's a point at which I quit getting passed, and start being the one doing most of the passing. That point is just a bit north of 80mph. Anecdotally, same point it was when speed limits were lower. IOW, when I'd ride the interstates of AZ or WY twenty years ago, my ratio of passed/passing at 90mph was about the same as it is now.

But surely someone has done an actual study on this.


Perhaps for places with realistic speed limits, but there are places with unrealistic limits: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-12-17/opinion/ct-enf...


Still true to this day - I've been pulled over for speeding just over 80, and the State Police knocked my recorded speed down to just below 80 so I wouldn't get a very serious "aggravated" speeding ticket (something like 15mph over limit)


Many speed limits were set at a particular percentile of observed speeds early in the road’s life, then lowered in the 1970s to conserve fuel. Safety-oriented calibration is less common than you’d think.

Drivers mostly go the speed they are comfortable with, which is a function of the roadway’s design and conditions. Traffic engineers are learning that you can’t just slap a 30mph limit sign on something that feels like an interstate highway, but must instead use the road’s physical characteristics to slow drivers down.


Anecdotally speaking, I've driven a lot and 75-80 is ideal speed for me. When I drove in texas where in certain areas, the speed limit is 80-85, I still drove around 80. Once you hit 85/90, a car just becomes too shaky/unstable feeling.


I think Ferrari, Porsche, et al would beg to differ. Most high end Mercedes, Audi or BMW cars are limited to 155 mph but you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference in ride quality between the top 50 mph of the range and the bottom 50. If your car gets shaky and unstable when you hit 90 mph then I'm sorry but you just don't have a very good vehicle.


The car is not all that's at play here. Road surface quality is a huge factor.

I've pushed a rental Merc past 180 km/h (110 mph) on a reasonably well-paved outback road, and it was downright unpleasant to drive at that speed from the vibration. On a smoother highway I would guess it'd still become unpleasant past 200 km/h (125 mph).

Personally, I also found driving at those speeds too mentally taxing. The lack of time to react, the lack of maneuverability, and the huge braking distance were just too stressful. You couldn't let your thoughts, let alone your eyes, off the road for even a second.

On that particular trip, I had driven for 18 hours (excluding short breaks and a 3-hour nap), most of it at ~100 km/h. If I had the option of driving 180 km/h the whole time and save 8 hours, I would not take it.

That said, if there were no speed limits, I'd probably drive 130-150 km/h (80-95 mph), depending on the road, which isn't far from what volkk said.


The 'too mentally taxing' bit and poor road quality are obviously good points, I agree, and make driving at speed less pleasant, but they are external to the car, and its handling capabilities...


you can't assume that most of the general population has these cars, though. a 2013 camry going 90 MPH is not something i want to be in, nor do i trust anyone going that fast to be in control of their vehicle and making high speed decisions


I've been up to 130mph as a passenger in mid-2000s Kia Magentis saloon ( Camry-sized sedan ) on a track and it was rock-solid.

Car chassis are very performant nowadays.


> Once you hit 85/90, a car just becomes too shaky/unstable feeling.

Not my car, I often look down and see that I'm going 90 when it feels like I'm going 70.


> If you were to raise the speed limit to 75mph, people would just use the same logic to drive 90mph instead.

I've driven in parts of the country where the speed limit is 75 or even 80 and that wasn't my experience. There were not a lot of people blowing past me doing 95.


Drive on I25 north of Cheyenne WY on a Sunday, and I guarantee ~50% of out of state cars are going that speed.


Generally in my experience people drive around 70-75 mph regardless of the speed limit. At 50mph some people may lean lower, but it's generally usual to see people on 75mph highways going 75mph. There were some in Michigan.


It's regional. I've seen an interview on MA TV with a State Trooper where the cop basically said that 5-10 over was totally OK on a newly-opened freeway.

Then again, MA speed limits tend to be lower than surrounding states.


That's not what the evidence shows.

Also, it goes against traffic design principles, even in the US. (see: 85th percentile)


Cops don't set speed limits.


Sure, but the people that are responsible for their revenue do. There is an incentive by both parties to keep the speed limits lower than they need to be as long as that means the police department doesn't need to fund its operations through regular taxation. Police chiefs often have easier access to city councils and they pretty clearly aren't lobbying for increased speed limits.


>I'm annoyed that there is no simple system for the IRS to tell me what I owe, and let me pay or dispute.

How weird is it that this is not the norm? In Sweden, this is exactly the way it works. You get a piece of paper every year saying "according to what your employer and other instances have reported, here's what we think you owe". You can dispute it, but best of all: if you have nothing to dispute, you can OK it cryptographically (look up "bank-id"), or even OK it via SMS, by sending a pre-generated code given to you on paper. If you do, you get your payout (if any) just a month or two later.


Norway has gone even further. Unless you object, it's automatically accepted!


> The IRS have all the data

Not..entirely true.

My 2016 taxes were professionally done, but we somehow forgot to include one of the something-something-1099 forms from a brokerage firm. The brokerage reported some RSU stock-sells to the IRS but didn't report the cost-basis, and so the IRS assumed the cost-basis was $0 and thus taxed the full sale as income (effectively double-taxing all the RSUs). They just sent a tax bill for something like $20k plus a bunch of fees and interest.

It's an accounting-error so we won't owe much, but I doubt we would have seen this mistake if the IRS had just told us a total amount to pay. We have two tech-job incomes both of which are highly-dependent on equity, so we'd almost certainly end up getting a CPA to run all the numbers again anyway.

I'm a fan of reducing bureaucracy of double-reporting tax info, but I'm personally unwilling to trust that the IRS and various banks / brokerage systems are up to the task of generating trustworthy data (and/or erring on the side of the taxpayer in situations like this).


I don't think this would prevent you from using a CPA or Itemizing your return. However, this system could be very beneficial for the 68.5% of the population that doesn't itemize[1].

[1] https://taxfoundation.org/who-itemizes-deductions/


I think it would still happen with standard/non-itemized deductions. This particular case was mis-reported income. But agreed that my case (and really any cases that involve capital-gains) are probably in the vast minority.


Lots of people receive RSU's, and the cost basis issue is extremely common.


I never itemized and I’m pretty sure the IRS could never do my tax forms while I was in China...heck, they never even asked for anything like a W2 since my income was all foreign.


I fail to see how this is an argument against making this an option, though.


Itemizing isn’t the only thing that makes taxes too difficult to do automatically.


Yes, but this isn't for the outliers who know they are outliers.

This is for the people who right now are paying some company to essentially and unnecessarily siphon off some of their tax money.


I get it, but anyone making more than $100k probably has investments Schedule Ds and all that other crap to worry about. And anyone else can file a 1040EZ anyways. Not ideal for sure, but the hard case remains the hard case.


Itemizing deductions is totally different from reporting cost basis on a stock sale.


Right, I was just pointing out that OPs case is in the minority of tax filers and that making this option available would benefit a lot of tax-filers and wouldn't prevent OP from filing their taxes as they normally would.


I'm not sure people with RSU's are as small of a minority as you think. They're a fairly common form of compensation.


Wouldn't it be useful if they gave you a filled version of the return forms? Then it would be easy to check for discrepancies between the IRS and CPA forms, and you'd easily be able to tell if either of them forgot something. If both independently arrived at the same result, you could be very sure you got it right.


> Not..entirely true.

Obviously. You should read categorical statements like this one as, "The IRS [often and in many of the most common cases] have all the data."

That's a generally-applicable, useful, mental substitution that saves us from unnecessary and constant waffling and equivocation in everyday conversation.


They really don't have even close to all the data. The irs will generally have income numbers, as those generally must be reported through 1099k, 1099, and w2, etc. But they have no information on your expenses, depreciation, etc.

So they only know your revenues, not your expenses. And this applies for business as well as personal.


This is like when people say, "I don't know anybody who voted for the other party!"

Lots and lots and lots of people don't have any expenses. They don't itemize. They don't want, have, or need any of the stuff you're protesting about. They have a job. And that job reports their income to the IRS. End of story. Case closed. That's it. That's their entire situation.

You're imagining another kind of person, but I'm not talking about that other kind of person.


To put it another way, there's little reason to not (extremely) simplify something for, say, 60% of the population, just because it's going to remain complicated for the remaining 40%.


If your entire situation is a W-2 and the standard deduction, then the 1040ez is a breeze. You can fill it out online and submit for free in 15 minutes.


Sure, but more than half the population doesn't itemize, and doesn't end up reporting expenses, depreciation, etc. Some people would need to provide supplemental information to the IRS, sure, but that's a minority of people.


You missed the conclusion/point of the reply. It's that I (personally) don't trust the government and banks/agencies enough to actually make this a trustworthy proposition, and I have data-points to back up my intuition.


I didn't miss the point, because the point only applies if you're itemizing in the first place and, as pratheekrebala mentions, we're talking about the vast majority of folks who don't.

And, in any case, the question isn't, "Will the IRS ever make a mistake?" Obviously they will. The question is, "Will the IRS make fewer mistakes than the mass of folks who don't itemize and who have simple tax situations?"

I think that's clearly true.


This happened to me as well, they processed every transaction as pure profit. I don't see how this disproves that they had the data though. They literally had every transaction I made that year as reported by the brokerage, they just didn't use the data right largely because I'm still required to spoon it to them correctly.


> The brokerage reported some RSU stock-sells to the IRS but didn't report the cost-basis, and so the IRS assumed the cost-basis was $0 and thus taxed the full sale as income

Similar, yet ... stupider...

Did some standard stock buy/sells in a year, and the brokerage reported all the sales as full income, and no original cost, so they'd reported that I'd had something like $120k in 'income' ... No penalties for them for filing bad data, but it took me a while and some CPA time to respond accordingly. :/


RSU cost-basis reporting isn't at all intuitive for some reason. The information you need is in brokerage details but, as I recall, the summary realized gains use a cost basis of $0.


This is a very common issue, but I'd rather the IRS did 95% of my tax return, sent it to me, and gave me the opportunity to say, "actually, here's my cost basis on that 1099" before me approving it.


Oh man, was this Schwab that did that to you? This happened to me and I just paid... but I did not check the cost basis. (I should know, too, because Schwab did this on another year and I caught it.)


It was Morgan Stanley, but I'm sure there's similar things with most brokerages. If you think you over-paid in error it's definitely worth your time to go back and amend it, it's not like your money is gone.


Return will still need to be verified by the taxpayer in either case.


>then wait 3 years to see if I was randomly chosen to see if I was correct.

My CPA friend told me that Money Magazine used to send fairly complex personal income tax packets to 50 different tax preparers annually (grain of salt: I haven't been able to find the article). She recalled that the best year had about 4 preparers get the same calculation as the plurality.


Arguably it's not really comparable because of country size etc. but I really love the Portuguese IRS system. You log in from your PC, press a button (if you want), and the system auto-fills all of your tax data for you. You can then check that everything is in order, add deductions and proofs if you like or need. Press simulate to check what tax returns you will get. You may save and print everything. There is a help system built-in that explains every form. When you're finished with your review, press send, and the system will validate your forms and send them to the IRS.

Usually everything is filled-in correctly anyway. Takes 5 minutes for ordinary tax payers like me.


Canada sends you an assessment after you file letting you know their initial thoughts on how much you owe. You can still get audited to see if there were any omissions or factual errors - e.g. Your home office isn't really an office.


but don't you still have to fill out a tax form? in that case, isn't that the same as in US?.


You're actually able to electronically fetch all the data that the various companies (employer, broker, bank, etc) report to the CRA anyway. All you have to do is check it and send.


Yes, but you have a much better idea of whether it was actually done correctly and matches CRA's information. I don't claim its better in every way, just this one specific issue has a solution.


The system would be much easier if my tax software could download what the IRS has. This way it could either do most of the data entry for me; or if I had a dispute, I'd know about the problem immediately.


This would be nice, but they may not actually have all of the data: itemized deductions being one major missing piece.


The whole idea is the IRS would prefill all the forms with all the information they know and you'd login and add anything that's missing. 80% of taxpayers would just confirm and hit submit, the ones who need to add stuff know who they are. You can always hire someone to do it for you too.

Most people already claim the standard deduction and with the new tax reform 95%+ of tax returns are going to claim the standard deduction this year. As part of the hypothetical bill could also require more organizations (charities, local governments) to report to the IRS.

I have business income the IRS doesn't know a thing about before I fill out my schedule c, but prefilled forms for all the stuff they DO know about would still be awesome and super helpful.


Starting for 2018 taxes, the standard deduction was doubled to $12,000 for a single filer and $24,000 for a married couple. Combine that with no longer being able to deduct state income taxes and there will be fewer people than ever actually itemizing deductions this year.


The state and local income tax deduction was capped, but not abolished.


In the countries where the system is place, you get to check the pre-made filing and add missing deductions.


Doesn't the bank send the same tax documents to the IRS as they send to you? (Mortgage interest is a commonly itemized deduction.)

Itemized deductions could be a "dispute" item, where you would login, switch from Standard to Itemized, then itemize your deductions. It could possibly recall this setting, and even the deductions, from the previous year's input.


For some, yes. However, in some cases, no. For example, I have a sole proprietor with a lot of 'business expenses' (web hosting, software licenses, etc.) Those get deducted.

It would be nice to get this streamlined! taxes are such a chore.

Too bad there's a multi billion dollar industry - tax preparation and accounting - supported by taxes. It will never happen.


It wouldn’t be meant to cover every case. But most people have simple taxes - they receive an income from a job and investments that are already reported and thier only deductions are charity, home mortgage, state taxes and dependent (or did that change this year?)


Cost basis accounting/tracking for investments was only required for covered securities starting in 2010 to 2013, depending on the type of security involved.


They could. I envision a one time use token for each charity you give to. You give the charity the one time use token issues by the government, and they report your donation directly to the government.

Financial institutions and other companies already give the government a copy of the form they give you for self employment income and taxable financial transactions.

The states also report state taxes and property taxes(?).

This would cover most taxpayers. If you have anything more complicated you would have to add it. This would also make enforcement easier, it could for the most part be automated.


Why one time? Why can't I get an "alternate" IDs from the IRS where the IRS knows the "real" number it's associated with, and provide the charity with that?

Or heck, let me just tell the charity my email address, and then tell the IRS that all the donations for that email should be credited to me. People who want more privacy can "just" sign up for bespoke email addresses.


One time use token for every charity. Much like one time use tokens that banks issue when you use Apple Pay/Google Pay (?)


So... I apparently messed up my 2016 taxes, and the IRS sent me a letter entitled "suggested tax correction" or something to that effect. They attached the data that they claimed I omitted (indeed, Turbotax silently discarded that data), and how much I owed. I then paid them online.

I think the IRS is super paranoid about people hiding information from them, and then never being liable for the taxes. Right now, if they miss some income, you might report it to them on your return, and they get money they didn't know they were entitled to.

I thought the letter with "pay us this amount of money" was great, though. Wish they just sent that at the end of the tax year.


> I think the IRS is super paranoid about people hiding information from them, and then never being liable for the taxes

Yeah, why do people pay out all that stupid money, when its as simple as just not telling the taxman? Really, if it was like that then tax evasion would be pretty simple...


Your sarcasm, I think, is unwarranted. I'm saying that's the IRS's fear, not that the fear is well-founded or that you should attempt to evade taxes.


The biggest problem for me is the delay between when the tax is incurred and when it is filed. As a home owner, for instance, every year I have to remember how much I paid for property tax, mortgage interests, etc (or at least save the receipts). If the IRS can provide some kind of API that allows me to file each item as it appears, that would be much better.


Absolutely its complete BS. All companies use ERP systems like SAP and PeopleSoft which already calculate all of the complicated rules, so any changes to tax law are vetted (hopefully) by tax professionals and software engineers before release. Compare this with the average tax filer (or HR Block employee), who has no fucking idea what they're supposed to do.


> All companies use ERP systems like SAP and PeopleSoft

No, not all companies do that. Maybe “most very large companies”, but that's a different thing altogether.


Their problem, not mine.


It's really your problem not theirs. It would cost very little for the IRS to do this and — if you're in the simple case where the IRS already has all your info — make filling your taxes as complicated as clicking "OK" on the IRS's website. And even if you're not in the trivial case where that suffices, it would save the aggregated taxpayers ungodly amounts of time and frustration.

That's basically how it works in many european countries. Filling is finding 10mn to log in the tax service's website, verifying that nothing looks out of whack and validating.


It is a straightforward answer:

This is because the IRS would make less money. It is like a poker game. Their number can only be smaller than yours. If you go under their number they penalize you. If you go over their number they keep the difference.


On more than one occasion I have gotten help from the IRS that reduced the amount of money the IRS ended up collecting from me. I do not think this first-principles reasoning about the IRS is as dispositive as you think it is.


> It is a straightforward answer:

It's also patent nonsense.


Please refrain from name calling and personal attacks.

It would be really great if you can elaborate your point. For example, why do you think it is nonsense? What line of argument or examples can you provide to make your point?

Here’s an example:

@GP

Perhaps stating it as a fact sounds a bit too strong me. How did you come to realize this fact? Do you have any source or “experiential evidence” for stating it as a fact. Perhaps I misunderstood your analogy but I would be very happy to hear your full point.


I am not agreeing with it just stating the fact.


If it's actually a fact, then you don't get to agree or disagree with it.


I believe he/she was using "agree with it" as shorthand for "judge that it is a good thing".


You are not stating "the fact" you are stating patent nonsense.


Maybe so, but you've crossed into attacking and name-calling, which is a violation of the site guidelines no matter how right you are. Moreover it's unsubstantive to just declare "nonsense" without explaining anything to the reader. Please don't post like this to HN.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> Maybe so, but you've crossed into attacking and name-calling

Calling a declaration patent nonsense is not "name-calling". Stuff which is "attacking and name-calling" however include:

* insinuating that the IRS rejects pre-filling declaration because they "would make less money" despite them having supported that effort

* declaring that tax declaration is "like a poker game" and that it's "just a fact" is

* insulting other commenters, as ransom1538 has done and I have not

> Moreover it's unsubstantive to just declare "nonsense" without explaining anything to the reader.

Why would I need to substantiate a disagreement with an unsubstantiated assertion?


It is name-calling in the sense that the HN guidelines use the term, and you need to follow the rules here regardless of how badly someone else is breaking them.


Could you backup your argument a bit more? You just come off as a jerk.

You disagree that americans pay more than they should? [1]

[1] https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/2018-tax-report/

Or you disagree that paying less than you should has consequences?

https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/irs/tax-responsibilities/...

People like you ruin this message board.


Please don't break the site guidelines yourself, regardless of whether someone else has done so.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


The reason it is like that is because the IRS does NOT have all the data. They want to make sure you are reporting everything as you should be.


I have paid taxes in Sweden and Spain. In both countries, I get a preliminary tax form with all my data. If I don't want to change anything I just need to go online. Click Accept. And pay with my credit card the difference between what my employer pays to the government monthly and the total, around 100$. It is very efficient.

I have the feeling that apart from lobbying USA loves to hate taxes. To make paying taxes overly-complicated adds to that feeling. When you only need to pay 100$ at the end of the year after one or two clicks (or you can get a paper copy mailed to your home and pay at the bank) makes it less painful.


This is certainly true. In particular, Americans for Tax Reform (the group founded by Grover Norquist) lobbies against any attempt at making paying taxes easier for this reason. Their argument is that people should be constantly aware of how much they are paying in taxes, and making it too easy would hinder this.

These groups, combined with tax preparation companies, prevent any meaningful attempt to make paying taxes easier.


> Their argument is that people should be constantly aware of how much they are paying in taxes, and making it too easy would hinder this.

Which is so stupid because so many people have no idea at all what they pay in taxes because of employer withholding. I knew more than one coworker who thought they didnt pay taxes because they get a check back at the end of the year. They had no idea how withholding worked until I explained it to them. Note that these were otherwise smart adults (software engineers).


A lot of these people also argue against withholding for this reason. If people had to write a check every year (or every quarter, month, whatever) then, the argument goes, people would be outraged at how much they pay and there would be enormous pressure on Congress to cut taxes.


This cuts the opposite way. The practice of withholding and the overcomplicated code leads Americans to greatly over-estimate how much they pay in taxes.

Increasing tax transparency would lead to surprise at how little we actually pay in taxes.

http://time.com/money/5224749/how-much-americans-pay-taxes-i...


> Which is so stupid because so many people have no idea at all what they pay in taxes because of employer withholding.

Which makes me think that it's not so much about people being informed as people being annoyed. I don't dread tax season because of what I owe, I dread it because of all the nonsense hoop jumping I know I have to go through on pain of massive fines and audit nightmares.

I'd be willing to be that a good many folks would shrug at their tax bill if it was laid out in simple terms with a sane user interface. Nobody can possibly shrug at the status quo form dance that they're subjected to year after year. It's practically guaranteed to cause discomfort and engender disdain.


Actually I worked for Americans for Tax Reform and I can assure you that all they care about is preventing corporations from paying additional taxes.

Anything that is from them about individual taxes is just marketing to get you to vote Republican. They quite literally say that they want to "broaden the base of taxpayers", i.e, the individual pays more.


Most people have tax withheld from their paycheck then are delighted to receive a refund the next year. I don't think that provides any meaningful awareness of how much they are really paying, any more than if the process were entirely automatic.


Irrational feeling people have with tax refunds. If you receive a high refund you should be crying. That is money you lost. Nobody is giving you free money. With a really pessimistic 5% return, you ended up paying $5 more per $100 of refund...


That's assuming you had all the money at the beginning of the year.


And that you had the discipline not to spend it.


I agree to a point. It's common for Europeans to forget about VAT since it's included in the final price consumers see, for example.

You often see income tax comparisons between the US and European countries, when in reality if you actually spend your money you are paying a 20+% tax.

With our tax system, you can see clear as day how much money you are losing out on for social security, medicare, and standard income tax.


The VAT is still specified on the receipt. So you can see it just as clearly, and the mental arithmetic to calculate whan you have to pay is much simpler.


> Lobbies against any attempt at making paying taxes easier for this reason. Their argument is that people should be constantly aware of how much they are paying in taxes, and making it too easy would hinder this.

Can we please stop taking their claims at face value? It is a blatant attempt to destroy the power of the US Federal Government, perhaps the last entity that stands in the way of absolute corporate domination. Norquist is a pawn in this play, just like all the other PAC's, super PAC's, institutions doing "economic research" etc.

The GOP has been consumed by these groups, who have been very clever to "explain" how tax cuts and reducing Government and social security benefits are great, even to those who need them the most. They are a cancer in American society and it still baffles me that these groups are now considered mainstream.


I was slightly bothered after moving to Spain from the UK because I had to submit the IRPF and similar. You never have to think of such a thing in the UK unless you see the wrong code on your payslip, and that is always in order to get a refund.

People of the US won't trust a damn thing the government does, probably for pretty good reason, and the whole country suffers for it. IRS can adequately track and report your taxes, even refunding them if they're too high? HELL NO, gotta blow most of that potential refund on a tax adviser to prove that I could get refunded! HMRC can adequately track and report your taxes? Actually, most of the time yes. No need to file unless it's a more complicated setup.


>People of the US won't trust a damn thing the government does, probably for pretty good reason, and the whole country suffers for it.

Lobbying by companies like Turbotax (Intuit) and others is largely behind this. I think many Americans would be ok with just paying a bill the government sends them which is based on information that they know the government already has.


> I have the feeling that apart from lobbying USA loves to hate taxes.

Of course we do! Opposition to taxes is LITERALLY the creation myth of the United States.

"No taxation without representation!" -- and we certainly weren't looking for representation.


Most of the rest of the world does this.

If you only have W-2 or 1099 income, the government already has all of the data necessary to complete your taxes using standard deductions. If you have other income, itemize, or have other circumstances, you can continue doing your taxes as is.

It is curious that some proponents (in the US) of lowering taxes intentionally make taxes more complicated so as to make people more opposed to taxes in general.


If by 1099 you mean 1099-MISC, which is what I think most people mean when they say "1099 income" without an additional qualifier, then the IRS almost certainly has no idea what detections are available to you, and there may be taxable things that they don't know about either.


I mean 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, and 1099-B. The 1099-MISC for consultants, as you point out, introduces additional complexities.


I'm willing that in the vast majority of cases they do, and the small minority of cases where they don't isn't a good enough reason to not do this. Especially because, if you do fall into that case, you can just file your taxes as normal.


If you get a 1099-MISC, you need to file Schedule C [1]. They can make a guess at line 1 based on the 1099-MISC, but none of the other lines come with a counter party filing forms with the IRS to give them hints.

I agree that most people who don't need to file Schedule C, who don't have investment gains or losses outside of tax sheltered accounts, and who don't pay for childcare while they work (Form 2441), and who don't have miscellaneous deductions (which include medical expenses and unreimbursed employee expenses if they exceed 2% of your income) could have the IRS correctly fill out their taxes for them. And thats a lot of people, and the IRS should do it. But the parent comment said "If you only have W-2 or 1099 income, the government already has all of the data," and my point is that unless they mean something weird by "1099 income," then thats wrong.

[1]: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sc.pdf


Which proponents are you talking about? Usually one of the talking points on tax "reform" is that the tax code is too complicated and reform is needed to make compliance easier.


I pretty sure almost everyone would agree that having the IRS fill out a return and send it to you for approval would be better (except for the Norquist zealots that think the IRS would "hide" deductions from you).

Most tax filers have a single W2 income and use the standard deduction, so the IRS would just send you a form that has that.

For the rest of us who actually don't use the standard deduction, at least it would help me know which forms the IRS has and what they think I owe them, so I don't forget anything, or can correct things. I've had incorrect 1099s filed against me and had no idea for years until the IRS notified me of a discrepancy.

So yeah, there is no downside to the IRS doing my return and then letting me amend it.


Sending a pre-filled form that we can append with any deductions would be the best. Hell, it could be a website. The web is great for filling in forms.

I live in Virginia and about a decade ago we had an online website to fill in the state taxes. It was so easy. H&R block bought off the legislature to have it shut down and now they charge one of the highest rates in the nation to file state taxes for Virginia. The stated reason for shutting it down was to save money, because $40k was apparently too expensive to save the residents of the state millions.


I would settle for a list of data that they do have. I hate looking for every form and hoping it is complete and correct.

I just got a surprise from last year that a 401(k) rollover was (incorrectly) filed to the IRS as a distribution. No tax form was sent to me, but the IRS knew all about it and sends me a letter saying I owe them several thousand, interest is accruing and penalties are about to start. They had this data at tax time and I could have fixed it all before filing.


Having lived in New Zealand where the IRD does this, yes. Yes I would.

If they owe you money, you can file. If you owe them money because they screwed up, you don’t need to do anything. This assumes pay as you earn, standard employee status, not entrepreneurial revenue. Easy for the common case.


Kiwi living in Singapore. I prefer Singapore's method of deducting it from your bank account directly each month, or you pay your own lump sum.

In NZ (and Australia) you have tax withheld, which means the employer holds your tax, they are not obligated to pay that tax for ( i believe 6 months ) so they tend to pay 1/4 yearly or 1/2 yearly, leaving the money in their own account.

In Singapore you get your full salary and you pay it yourself, either via lump sum, or monthly deductions from your bank account.


I'm torn on this issue. On the one hand, in Sweden, taxes are extremely simple to file, and I love it for practical reasons. All work income (even from multiple part time jobs which someone said would be an issue) is declared by the employer, almost all saving/stocks/bonds/other stuff resulting in financial gains are reported by the broker/bank. I think many people don't change any of the data, almost 1 million (out of a 10 million population) just send a text message saying basically "Okay!" [0].

On the other hand, this also irks me in some way. It is good that it's so simple to file it, but at least when just texting an okay it probably hides just how much people pay in taxes. It's almost the same thing as the fact that most employers in Sweden just show the taxes they withheld from the salary, i.e not the significant payroll taxes the company had to pay (which could just as easily have been shown for/"payed" by the employee).

Regardless of ones opinion on how high taxes should be, and wether one believe they get good value for their money, I think everyone ought to know roughly how much they pay. I guess this is the reason why Grover Norquist of the Norquist pledge [1] tries to stop measures like this [2].

I imagine, if there was interest, it could be done in a way that actually _raises_ the awareness of how much tax is payed/withheld from people's income.

[0]: https://www.skatteverket.se/omoss/press/pressmeddelanden/201... [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Norquist#Taxpayer_Prote... [2]: https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?stor...


> It is good that it's so simple to file it, but at least when just texting an okay it probably hides just how much people pay in taxes.

There are much better ways to make taxes understandable to people than making it complicated to file them.

For example, UK tax office sends everyone a letter with their total tax contribution and a breakdown on how it is used for different government services: https://i.imgur.com/a1MIiPC.jpg


> I think everyone ought to know roughly how much they pay.

Why do you care? More importantly, why do you want to force people if they don't give a flying fuck?

> I guess this is the reason why Grover Norquist of the Norquist pledge [1] tries to stop measures like this [2].

Grover Norquist tries to stop measures like this because he absolutely hates the very concept of taxation and has made it his life's work to make taxes as painful as possible so others will as well. There is nothing benevolent to Grover Norquist, the man is an intellectual terrorist trying to make countries fail entirely.


You're bound to have issues if your parents decided to name you Grover.


They already do prepare your taxes. They just make you do the same work twice.


If they do, they are terrible at it. I get 'corrections' from the IRS about once a year to previous returns, all of which are basically them making an error and then sending me a bill. Not only do I have to waste time preparing my taxes, but I have to waste additional time disputing their BS 'corrections'.


I once got a correction was was completely accurate. TurboTax has hidden something in a worksheet that errantly added something twice. The IRS corrected it and sent me a notice to let me know the correct value. It did reduce my refund, but it was correct.


Wouldn't it be so much easier if they just sent you all the corrections first so you could just dispute them once? :)


That would, in the best case, still require as much effort as filing in the first place or, in the worst case, require as much effort as I have to do now because the disputes are a lot of back/forth/waiting with the IRS.


I'm in my 40's and have only once received a correction that was an error on the IRS's part. I wonder why you receive so many, is your tax situation rather complicated?


13 million in lobbying over five years to prevent more efficient tax filing for an entire nation and protect your business model. Sounds like an amazing deal for a company with 5 billion in revenue. I'm consistently amazed at just how little money it takes to buy off the government effectively.


It's not just that, anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist has outsized interest on the right and he gets republicans to sign a pledge to not raise taxes, and if they violate the pledge Norquist raises money and campaigns against them. The problem is, the pledge also requires signees also do not support legislation to make paying taxes easier.

The radical anti-tax groups are so anti-tax that they see making it easier to pay taxes as support for taxes. So they want it to be difficult to pay taxes to make it easier for them to argue against taxes entirely.

The system is broken in so many places trying to approach it with any rationality gives you a headache.


It turns out that:

"I don't want government to operate effectively because to do so would ruin my ideological minarchism"

and

"I don't want government to operate effectively because I can profit from it operating less effectively"

are very friendly bedfellows indeed.



Presumably in the "reduction or elimination of deductions and credits" - simplifying the tax code would require those kinds of changes.


>oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates

seems reasonable to me. otherwise you could "raise" taxes by eliminating deductions.


Seriously? That's the basis of saying that the anti-tax pledge prohibits IRS tax prep?

The number of deductions and credits is orthogonal to whether the IRS can save you the effort of collecting the information about what they think you owe.


Not the basis at all, just one example. Here's another good one that OP added at the end in an edit:

> It’s no secret that the IRS and big spenders in Washington, D.C. want to socialize all tax preparation in America. The (ironically-named) IRS Office of Taxpayer Advocate has been pushing for IRS preparation of tax returns for years. There’s only one reason proponents want to do this—tax revenues. If the IRS invites a conflict of interest by adding “tax preparer” to its role as “tax collector,” it’s a near-certainty that everyone’s taxes will rise. In fact, higher tax revenues are a major selling point of mandatory IRS-prepared tax returns.

...

> More importantly, it directs the IRS that it “shall not compete with the private sector in providing these services to taxpayers, nor acquire, develop, or deploy enabling systems to duplicate or replace private tax preparation services.”

> Never again would taxpayers have to worry about the IRS filling out a Form 1040 for them against their will.

These are unserious people that shouldn't be anywhere near the halls of power.

https://www.atr.org/taxpayer-advocates-issue-joint-free-file...


Alright, those would have been better excerpts to cite.

The second quote is ridiculous -- it would mean the IRS shouldn't have a public facing free information site at all, that you should have to find someone else to tell you anything whatsoever about paying your taxes at all.

The third seems like a deliberate strawman -- all proposals would involve you needing to approve the IRS quote.

Unserious, indeed.


"> Never again would taxpayers have to worry about the IRS filling out a Form 1040 for them against their will."

Because this is an actual problem for some people?


> The radical anti-tax groups are so anti-tax that they see making it easier to pay taxes as support for taxes. So they want it to be difficult to pay taxes to make it easier for them to argue against taxes entirely.

I don't know if getting rid of taxes entirely is really a goal for many of these people, but what you describe doesn't sound that unreasonable. Making paying taxes easier does sound like support for taxes, right? For example, if we didn't have payroll deduction, surely there would be more popular support for tax cuts.


I’d love to see the end of payroll deductions and to make annual taxes due the Monday before Election Day.

Doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t have taxes, but we’d have a tight temporal and psychological link between what we pay and the selections we make at the ballot box.


Right. I'd love to see the end of Payroll deductions in addition to making it stupid-simple to file and pay. Let me visit a website and toss my bank account info in.

Practically it would never happen so it's difficult to argue for other than on ideological grounds. I think we as a society would find out that a huge amount of the population would simply be incapable of budgeting even quarterly tax payments. The enforcement costs would be immense.


Actually, the correct temporal link would not be with elections but with choices you make to use publicly funded roads, breathe clean air due to public funded regulations, etc.

That's the temporal connection that needs to be made.

The idea that there is a whole host of politicians who want to increase taxes is ludicrous. No one campaigns on the basis of increasing taxes. Further, in most of the West, taxes have dropped dramatically over the past few decades. Most politicians campaign on (1) reducing taxes or (2) providing some benefits. The dishonest politicians campaigning on #2 are teh ones who claim you can increase benefits without increasing taxes (which is occasionally true but rarely). It's only the honest politicians campaigning on #2 who add that the benefit will indeed have to be paid for by higher taxes.

The politicians increasing taxes are the good guys because they're the only ones at least thinking about paying for benefits.


Very little of the federal budget goes to those things you listed. State budgets may vary.


What does it mean in that instance to provide a service that makes taxes easy to file for you? Intuit's entire business model is making paying taxes easier. Except you have to pay for it.

How does that fit into their logic?

What happens if all the taxes are abolished and there is no need for that business? Will they start lobbying for more tax or lobbying against the final cut? Or lobbying for an income report system with the tax component stripped out, basically building what would have helped in the first place?


Grover Norquist is on record saying that his anti-tax stance is to get rid of most if not all of government.

Starving the beast is a major policy aim.


A similar group of people are upset at the signs in California highlighting works projects done with the new Gas Tax money (SB 1) that's up for repeal in November. Their argument is that if people see the projects that are benefiting from that tax money, they'll be more in favor of keeping the tax.


The reasoning against many simplified tax filing proposals is that many of them reduce transparency and arguably raise taxes in an indirect sense because it makes it harder to file for deductions. I agree with that if you keep the current underlying tax system but just "simplify" filing.


While I suppose it depends on the proposal in question, the ones I've seen generally follow a "make the simple cases easier" rule: get the forms pre-filled with what's possible to prefill, verify what's filled in is correct, and if necessary, complete what's missing. If you need to file for deductions that such a system misses, it doesn't have to be any harder than it is now.


Think about how users interact with software and how often they adjust default settings. Any additional forms outside of the pre-filled forms will likely get ignored by a sizable amount of people. That's what I meant by an indirect tax hike.


It doesn't appear that the anti-debt pledge has any weight whatsoever since around January 2017.


Filing your own taxes is already trivial for the vast majority of people. The only reason people don’t fill out their own 1040-EZ is brainwashing that “taxes are hard”.


It is not that simple and there are deeper issues. If buying out politicians was easy Google and Amazon would have easily raised H1B cap by now. Just like in immigration there are multiple forces at play in taxation too.

The powerful anti-tax group (which I support) is against this simplification problem. We believe making it simple would also make it simple to raise taxes and people will not realise how much money they are paying to the government. This reduces government's accountability in spending.

I think IRS must send us a bill each month and we must write a check to pay it. It is both simple and also people feel the pinch of paying taxes thus supporting measures to reduce taxes over time.


> We believe making it simple would also make it simple to raise taxes and people will not realise how much money they are paying to the government.

In other words you think people are too dumb to do the math, but yet are smart enough to make intelligent protests against taxes when they have to write a check?


I do not make any value judgement here about other people. I do not want money taken away from people without they explicitly agreeing to it (even though disagreement might mean jail).


You agreed to follow the laws of the country in which you reside by continuing to reside there.


To be clear, are you implying that residence implies consent to every policy? Is that really what you’re saying?

Note: I don’t agree with the GP.


Who is disagreeing with that ? Does not mean you have to like the law or not work to repeal it. You could have used the same argument on blacks and claimed the law of the land allows slavery and hence they should willingly follow it.

Let me rephrase my original sentence ". I do not want money taken away from people without they explicitly agreeing to it "

Just because you have to pay taxes anyways does not mean there should not be a formal consent in the form of a check.


This would be fine and good if:

1. There was any relation between how much we spent and what we pay in taxes. There isn't. In the U.S., so-called "fiscal conservatives" routinely give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while simultaneously voting to increase spending in the largest discretionary spending category we have: the military—which currently represents 53.7% of our discretionary budget.

2. People currently had any idea what they were spending on taxes. In my experience, most people think the amount taken out of their paycheck is all federal taxes. They seemingly make no distinction between social security, 401k contributions, medicare, pre-tax benefits like health insurance, transportation benefits, FSA's, etc., local, state, or federal taxes. It's all just seen as "the government took money from me". It's amazing how many people legitimately think they're taxed over 50% (especially those that are in the 15-25% tax brackets).


> 2. People currently had any idea what they were spending on taxes

Taxes include all the things. Not just Federal income tax. It gets frustrating comparing tax rates to say - European nations - when they typically will be quoting all-in tax rates other than sales tax (VAT) - where the US number will almost invariably list only the federal income tax rate which tells not even half the story in many cases.

social security, medicare, medicaid, local income taxes, state income taxes, federal income taxes, real estate taxes, sales taxes.

Adding those taxes together equals your total tax load. I think more people are closer to 50% than you'd suspect. Programs like social security and medicare are re-distributive in nature and indistinguishable from taxes - they simply were marketed differently for political reasons. But lets call them what they are.

> 401k contributions, pre-tax benefits like health insurance, transportation benefits, FSA's, etc.,.

Agreed that those are not taxes - in fact somewhat the opposite!

Edit: formatting


> Programs like social security and medicare are re-distributive in nature and indistinguishable from taxes

I do think the distinction is relevant: The expected result is that you will get every dime you put into social security and medicare back. And then some. They're required savings accounts. Taxes spent on interstates, debt repayment, and the military, however, are truly expenses.


Fair point. This comment put me on a night of research for EV on SS/Medicare and it was enlightening. Thanks!


I agree with you. The government spending needs to be drastically reduced.

> People currently had any idea what they were spending on taxes.

This is precisely the opposition to IRS doing your taxes for you. Imagine you receive a bill every month that shows the clearly what all these payments are and you have to write separate checks.

More

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: