Why Tax Software Companies Are Fighting “Return-Free Filing”

What if instead of hiring a tax preparer or using tax software you have to pay for, the government would do your taxes for you for free? This free alternative is called “return-free filing,” and is an idea that’s been floating around for decades, endorsed by presidents like Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. So why doesn’t it already exist? One answer: The tax software companies want you to continue paying them, and argue that the government would do a poor job of saving you money. ProPublica has the story.


5 Comments / Post A Comment

sea ermine (#122)

There is also free tax software! I mean, I think the idea of handing my info over to the government and having people who know things about taxes do my taxes for me would be really nice, but that doesn’t exist right now.
But what does exist is free tax software. I did my taxes for the first time with tax act, which is what my parents have been using since it started existing. There is also the whole free e-file thing and a bunch of other free online one’s.

Katie Mae (#3,554)

@seaermine Depending on your income and where you live, you CAN hand your info over to the government and have people who know things about taxes do your taxes for you!

The program is called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and if your household income is under $50k and your taxes aren’t crazy complicated, you qualify to get your taxes done by certified volunteers like me. :)

The official site for VITA is: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers

Also, free tax software rocks.

julebsorry (#1,572)

I forgot to file once, and about five years later the IRS helpfully did my taxes for me and told me what I owed for the missed year (plus some hefty fees and penalties). Oops! They actually seemed to do a very fair job of it, though.

Taxes in NZ are really easy – if you have a single full time job, you basically know you will get a refund, and you only have to fill in ONE form, I think.

If you have multiple jobs, freelance, run a business, etc, then it gets a bit more complicated, and there are a bunch of companies that will do it for you and take a cut if you get a refund.

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