Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes €” and for free. You’d open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone…
The idea, known as “return-free filing,” would be a voluntary alternative to hiring a tax preparer or using commercial tax software. The concept has been around for decades and has been endorsed by both President Ronald Reagan and a campaigning President Obama.
“This is not some pie-in-the-sky that’s never been done before,” said William Gale, co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “It’s doable, feasible, implementable, and at a relatively low cost.”
So why hasn’t it become a reality?
Well, for one thing, it doesn’t help that it’s been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software €” Intuit, maker of TurboTax.