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Meanwhile, in my little country (NZ), as a regular salaried worker, I only had to interact with the IRD in the years that I had a few side gigs in addition to my regular employment.

Most years I don't interact with them at all. Don't even have to file.

I guess in the USA they are worried the IRS will get it wrong, so on the chance they will, everyone has to follow really complicated processes, even if their tax affairs are simple...Am I wrong?

We just like creating businesses for everything here. Someone needs to squeeze profits out of each segment. Like healthcare.

In Brazil, our IRS provides the software for free and it gets better every year. There are some talks about not having to declare anything if your revenue situation is simple, in a few years.

I don't trust our government as much as the US population doesn't trust its government but this level of paranoia only leads to inefficiencies. Now instead of a central authority providing codified norms in software, you have countless tax filling vendors providing theirs, lobbying, etc.

Same with right to bear guns against the government. I guess it's the old shovels and gold digging, there's someone profitting from your hopes and dreams, or in this case, fears.

The USA has "deductions", which are convoluted rat races where everyone does a bunch of paperwork so they all get a small discount which is cancelled out by higher overall rates. The IRS can't tell you which deductions to take, since they don't know your whole life situation.

It's the same structure that makes you pay 3% extra for everything you but so you can get 1-2% back as a credit card refund, and makes you get a supermarket loyalty card, and frequent flier miles, etc.

Australia has "deductions" and the filing forms are plenty complicated, doesn't stop them making a nice website with a free e-filing system.

For pretty much everything is prefilled, and you just double check from your own records, fill in the various deduction screens for whatever class of deductions you're claiming.

You see, the tax code is incredibly complicated but for the vast majority it’s rather straight forward. Predatory services like tax preparation feed on the fear and insecurities of average Americans by pitching taxes as some difficult task. In reality, one only needs a handful of pages to get their taxes completed and sent in. This process would be even easier if the IRS did it for you, but politics is not a career of public service, but one to reap maximum personal benefit. We have no laws barring public servants working for the same industries that put them into office so there is a massive conflict of interest, and nobody to do anything about it. The power is not in people’s hands and never has been.

It's not the form that's complicated. It's knowing that there is some form that exists that will get you money back. Plus knowing what to do next year.

The software is actually bad for you because you forget that reading every IRS booklet and form is about the only way to learn the logic of the tax system if you wish to exploit it correctly.

That's how it works in the UK too. By default taxes are taken from your paycheck, and that's the most interaction the majority of people have with the tax organisation. If for some reason you pay too much tax (e.g. you start/quit in the middle of the year) they will automatically send you a cheque with the refund.

Even if you are self employed or run your own company you can do most things online, with a nice easy to use form. Last few years when I've done it, it takes around 30 minutes to get everything done (including finding all the numbers I need to enter from banks, my accountant, etc).

> I guess in the USA they are worried the IRS will get it wrong, so on the chance they will, everyone has to follow really complicated processes, even if their tax affairs are simple...Am I wrong?

New Zealand has extremely limited deductions compared to the United States: http://taxsummaries.pwc.com/uk/taxsummaries/wwts.nsf/ID/New-.... For example, just from Google, it looks like you can't deduct expenses for daycare in New Zealand.

What we're worried about in the U.S. is that making deductions "opt in" will lead to an effective tax increase from people not claiming them (or being afraid to contest the "bill" sent to them by the IRS). You know the studies showing how organ donation rates shot up when it was made "opt out" instead of "opt in"? Same thing.

Being your close neighbour - how do you handle work related deductions. ie. IT equipment?

If I remember correctly, I got a tax deduction for 30% of its value per year through depreciation.

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