The Daily Parker

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Why do we go through this every year?

Washington Post columnist Helaine Olin argues for a simplified tax filing procedure in the US:

Filing taxes is a time-consuming, bureaucratic chore that the Internal Revenue Service estimates will take the typical American 11 hours. Nationwide, that works out to some 6 billion lost hours a year, according to T.R. Reid, author of the 2017 book “A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System.”

The thing is, filing taxes just doesn’t have to be this hard. In 36 countries, the nation’s tax agency sends eligible residents a pre-filled return, and asks them to sign if they agree with the amount that’s indicated is owed or should be credited to them. Japan does this. So do Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and others. A 2018 German study found that the pre-filled forms raise tax compliance.

So why not us, you ask?

The short answer: the United States took the British penchant for time-wasting activities and dialed it to 11. The longer answer might have something to do with Intuit's $5.7 million lobbying effort over the past two years.

Comments (1) -

  • David Harper

    5/18/2021 4:08:38 PM +00:00 |

    A couple of observations from someone married to an ex-pat American.  On the one hand, I'm astonished that most Americans have to file a tax return at all.  I've been a taxpayer here in Britain for more than thirty years, and the only occasion I was required to file a return was when I received (very modest) book royalties for a couple of years in addition to my regular salary.

    On the other hand, Americans living in the U.S. should be thankful they don't have to put up with the sh*t that the IRS and the U.S. Treasury impose on ex-pats.  If an ex-pat American has financial assets of more than $10,000 in bank accounts outside the U.S., they have to be declared to the U.S. Treasury under a law known as FATCA.  This includes joint bank accounts with their non-American spouse.  The U.S. government threatens serious sanctions against foreign financial institutions for failing to declare accounts held by ex-pat Americans, and as a result, a growing number of banks in Europe are refusing to provide ex-pat Americans with banking services, even going as far as to forcibly close existing accounts.

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