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If I read this right, you can still use the free service the IRS provides if you make less than $66,000.

Has anyone used Turbo Tax or H&R "free" versions to file? I can't use them & last time I tried they charged you to submit your taxes electronically but otherwise it was simple & easy.

I also know many cities offer services to help people file simple taxes for free.

I believe this bill also states the IRS cannot send debt collectors after people making less than $66,000.

This bill may not be as bad as it looks. I don't expect the IRS to make software for complicated taxes as that's a very difficult challenge. I question if it's necessary to bar it, but I'm guessing that was to keep their deal with the Free File software.

Either way it would be nice to see representatives state their position & reasoning behind this bill. It seems it has wide support across the aisle which is rare these days.




> If I read this right, you can still use the free service the IRS provides if you make less than $66,000.

You did not. You can contact the private companies such as H&R Block and request Their free service if you make less than 66k - and subject yourself to their upselling and scam artistry, to try and get you to pay anything more than "free."

> I don't expect the IRS to make software for complicated taxes as that's a very difficult challenge

The vast majority of people file extremely simple taxes, as they're salaried workers with minimal assets. Most first-world countries provide a pre-populated tax form with the relevant data (since your employer already submits it), for you to peruse, edit, and hit the submit button on. If other countries do it without a problem, I don't see why it's too technically difficult for us to do the same.


Exactly. W-2 and 1099 income is really straight-forward. If anything the IRS should provide ways for you to submit all your non-W2/non-1099 income to them and roll them up into a new form so that no matter what your situation you can "fetch" your current returns, sign them, and submit them. No need for third-parties at all. Any additional complexity is a symptom of rent-seeking IMO.


It would be incredibly easy to set up a step by step flow to intake basic info or to confirm the numbers and hit send.(if not doing alway with you doing the taxes)

I can only suspect that this hasn’t happened because of strong lobbying.


You are saying that IRS should write a TurboTax competitor.


Honestly if a company exists solely to solve an inefficiency they lobby to create, that’s not something I care to defend. Taxes are in the public interest and as such profit is just not a concern of mine. There’s plenty of other ways to make money than regulatory capture and rent seeking. I want the IRS to do what’s best for Americans and that is either providing a way to file free of charge or eliminating the complexities of the tax code. I don’t care which.


The IRS isn't authorised to simplify the tax code, it would have to be Congress.


Fair point. I guess that just leaves a free filing tool :)


> You did not. You can contact the private companies such as H&R Block and request Their free service if you make less than 66k - and subject yourself to their upselling and scam artistry, to try and get you to pay anything more than "free."

I went back to school full-time for most of last year to get some helicopter ratings and didn't have much taxable income, so I used the free H&R Block service.

There was exactly 1 attempt at an upsell, and it was at the very beginning of the process where I was told if I used the free service I would have to enter all of my information but if I used the paid service they could pull my information from prior filings to save me some time.

Was your experience with one of the free programs different?


I 100% agree with you that simple taxes should be easier to submit. The IRS could & should send you a pre-filled simple tax form that you have the option to sign & send back or agree to online. No "competing" software solution required.

I don't think the IRS should build software for complex taxes & strategies is all I'm saying. That's what accountants are for.

I do understand the argument that a simple pre-done tax solution would mean some people would miss out on deductions. But if you calculate the time & cost it currently takes to submit your taxes, it probably equals out.


> - and subject yourself to their upselling and scam artistry, to try and get you to pay anything more than "free."

Don't forget data mining. Dunno if these apps have ads, but if they do, be sure to add that in as well.


> I don't expect the IRS to make software for complicated taxes as that's a very difficult challenge.

The IRS already has this software. They are literally the best placed people in the world to make this software.

How do you think they check taxes for 300,000,000 people + businesses? And their software is already pre-populated with data from employers, banks, brokerages, and all the other places that automatically file data with the IRS.


To my (very limited) understanding, I'm under the impression their main way of verifying taxes is by comparing what you reported vs what everyone else who reported a tax form on you sent in.

I 100% agree that the IRS should handle the majority of simple taxes. I just don't think it's reasonable to expect them to find all the possible deductions or suggest complex strategies for you. They could offer common suggestions & try to remind you of common deductions though.


> I don't expect the IRS to make software for complicated taxes as that's a very difficult challenge.

Well, I do expect them to:

1. Verify 99% of taxes automatically anyway, and that's a very difficult challenge. There's no way IRS can use a human to verify every single tax filing.

2. Make a public service off it for those 99%.

3. I suppose that even for complex cases it's probably even _easier_ to make a software for that. There's no human that can remember thousands of pages of tax code.

Humans are still needed, but for correcting/adjusting/verifying the software itself.


> Has anyone used Turbo Tax or H&R "free" versions to file? I can't use them & last time I tried they charged you to submit your taxes electronically but otherwise it was simple & easy.

Yeah, I've used H&R's free filing for 4 years or so now. When I lived in a state with state income tax, they charged me for that, and offered to charge me to remember my data for next year (I declined). their website indicates that state tax filing is now free, I wonder if it depends on the state, or if things just changed since 2015 tax year filing.

unfortunately I don't have any other tax experiences to compare to, but it was very easy. as a student, I don't have complex deductions or income, but as long as I can use the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and it doesn't take too long, I'm happy.


> If I read this right, you can still use the free service the IRS provides

The IRS doesn't provide any electronic filling services.

Those "free" services are provided by a consortium of private institutions.

There is no way to efile without giving all your data to private companies.


This is definitely a nuanced issue, and some people in this thread are being alarmist. Another legitimate issue that many people cite is that by creating a system whereby people can just click a button to pay their taxes is that it can cause people to pay more taxes in general by not fighting for every deduction that they can. People are complacent, and if they are told by the government that they owe some dollar figure, the great majority of people will just click the button and put in their bank account info to make the problem go away.

Say what you will about the greed of tax companies, there absolutely is merit in those arguments. However, there is also something to be said for the effect of large numbers of people being lazy and not fighting to keep every dollar they are entitled to.


So wait. Your defense of being forced to pay $$$ to a third party company to data mine your info in a convoluted, frustrating and expensive process rather than using a free, simple, fast service is that maybe possibly it will be SO convenient and friendly that some people will elect not to bother "fighting for every deduction that they can"?

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/708195702/709698927


Lazy, really? The average person has enough crap to worry about to figure out tax forms. We shouldn’t require effort when much of the process can be automated.


Get rid of most deductions that aren't easily reported by third parties.

Problem solved.

(The recent tax bill went a long way in this direction by increasing the standard deduction)


The "free" program provided by tax companies only do the simple tax part. Nobody save tax using those free programs.




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