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Government Security The Internet United States

To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes 410

coondoggie writes: Based on preliminary analysis, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in filing season 2013 while preventing an additional $24.2 billion (based on what it could detect). As a result, the IRS needs to implement changes (PDF) in a system that apparently can't begin verifying refund information until July, months after the tax deadline. Such changes could impact legitimate taxpayers by delaying refunds, extending tax season and likely adding costs to the IRS.
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To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:30PM (#47976243)

    Sorry, it's going to be a long time before anyone believes anything the IRS says again.

  • Simplify Taxes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:35PM (#47976287)

    How about we simplify taxes so there's no need to issue refunds in the first place?

    • by mcswell ( 1102107 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @04:30PM (#47977723)
      New simplified form: Line 1: Enter amount you earned this year: ____ Line 2: Write a check to the IRS for the amount on line 1.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In exchange for bringing all deployed troops home, closing all foreign bases, ending all foreign aid, and ceasing all foreign military contracts. It costs about $1 trillion in annual lost revenue in exchange for saving about $1 trillion in annual expenses.
    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      That's how the Kryptonians ended up in deep shit.

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @03:32PM (#47977047) Journal

      ..and really all of the "simple" solutions. It seems like a good idea - just don't spend that $1 Trillion and we can drop our taxes by $1 Trilllion. Except that economies don't really work that way. You can't add or subtract a trillion dollars like that and expect things not to spiral out of control.

      Remember the recession that freaked out the entire world? Remember the job losses, the stagnation of the economy, and the general feeling that the world would end? We lost 8.8 million jobs, most of them paying $14-21/hr (if wikipedia is to be believed). Do you know how many jobs $1 Trillion dollars pays for? About 18 Million - more than double what was lost in the great recession.

      "But wait," I hear you cry, "that trillion dollars would still be spent by the people who wouldn't have been taxed!" Oh, that's partially true. Understand that 40% of that money would go to multi-millionaires who's purchasing habits generally are not affected by their income. The other 60% probably would be spent, but that 60% would be spent on goods and services in an economy which has almost zero overlap with the manpower which would be idled by the drop of $1T in defense spending. Those are soldiers, intelligence report creators, bomb makers - not really things you purchase in your every day life. And because you can't train and re-purpose people fast enough to build the TVs and tablets and cars and hotel staff to pick up the increase in demand, the prices for all those products would increase. And because of the numbers, dropping the US income tax would result in a net increase in take home pay of about 4%-5% for most people in the middle class (Say, $60-80,000 annual household income) or about $50 a week.

      So you're magical tax-free utopia would end up with 18 Million people out of work and without the skills needed to change jobs, inflation in the disposable goods and discretionary services market, and a net effect of $50 a week in the pockets of the people who still have jobs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rockoon ( 1252108 )

        "But wait," I hear you cry, "that trillion dollars would still be spent by the people who wouldn't have been taxed!" Oh, that's partially true.

        Its completely true unless you subscribe to the under-the-mattress fallacy.

        Understand that 40% of that money would go to multi-millionaires who's purchasing habits generally are not affected by their income.

        I see. You are a subscriber. Yes, rich people when they get money stick it under mattresses in order to deny the money from the economy, and this is believable in spite of the fact that rich people are rich because they dont do stupid shit like that.

        • Yes, rich people when they get money stick it under mattresses in order to deny the money from the economy,

          Or, they could invest that money abroad, China perhaps, where it is effectively denied from the US economy.

        • I was going to down vote you but I thought better to reply.

          It has been proven time and again that a person on the low end of the scale will spend a greater portion of their salary on day to day purchases than a rich person.

          Do you really think if you gave a man like Larry Elison $1000 or $1M or $10M that he is going to run around like a kid in a candy store and spend it on daily needs? Most likely he WILL stick it under his mattress or something similar because at a certain point you don't need more.

        • Actually, I know quite a few people in that boat. Most of them do "invest" their extra cash because they don't have a need to spend more than they currently are. They don't live paycheck to paycheck, that money just goes into their investment portfolios (which, in a way, is "spent" but in reality is just changing hands with other investors who are moving elsewhere). It definitely doesn't buy bombs or planes or fatigues or army personnel.

          Will they spend some of that 40%? Sure. Will they spend all of it? Not

  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:38PM (#47976335)

    End income tax.

    No more tax returns. Only tax based on use (i.e. Sales Tax) Problem solved in one fell swoop.
    Tax evasions now impossible and you encourage people to invest rather than spend.
    Oh wait, that's right, we have an entire industry run by blood sucking vampires that need the current system to remain as confusing as possible.

    • by hondo77 ( 324058 )
      You actually think sales tax evasion is impossible? Really?
      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        Right off the bat, I see sub rosa barter as the form of evading consumption taxes.

      • It is impossible. I am not aware of any merchants that dodge sales tax, but if it is a problem start imposing fines on merchants and book them for tax evasion. Number of merchants is obviously less than number of citizens. Since this is federal taxes, pass a law mandating online merchants (and online middlemen) to impose the tax too. It should be quite easy actually. Merchants already have systems that deal with sales tax (in most of the states atleast)

        • Not for nothing, but many small merchants dodge sales tax regularly.

          There are also numerous merchant cooperatives that swap goods and services already.

          By the time you hit multi-store or regional, this largely ceases to be possible (or worth the time compared to managing a multi-site business), but it certainly happens with businesses still on the Quickbooks level.

        • Re:Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @04:10PM (#47977495)

          It is impossible. I am not aware of any merchants that dodge sales tax,

          It is quite possible, and if you raise (or create) a sales tax in the amount you'll need to replace the income tax you'll see a lot of them doing it -- because the customers will want it.

          If the sales tax is 4%, it's not worth it. When the sales tax goes to 20% or more, look out. Why do you think there is illegal cigarette traffic, because you can't get the smokes that taste right? Or is it tax-stamp created?

          You'll also immediately get calls for the return of a tax on those awful rich people who are now avoiding taxation on their luxurious incomes because they don't spend most of it, while the poor folks are stuck paying taxes on every penny they earn because they have to spend it all to get by. Then you'll get a demand for some kind of tax credit for the poor, which will require an IRS and that awful paperwork you're trying to get rid of.

          You'll see charity as we know it drying up because there will be no tax benefit to it, and people who could afford to buy a house because the mortgage interest was deductable won't be buying houses.

          In fact, all of those social engineering projects that our tax code has been used to promote will go away. At least until you create a paperwork nightmare just as large as the existing one to bring them all back.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No, that's a terrible idea. With income tax, you can lighten the tax burden on those most affected by using tax rates that scale with your income. If everyone just pays a flat sales tax rate, the poor bear most of the economic burden. Plus, if we eliminate income tax, we have to raise sales tax to cover the deficit, so pretty soon we'll all be paying 20% (or higher) sales tax.

      Think of it this way; if you make $24,000 a year, a 20% tax that reduces your income to $18,000 a year is a much greater burden than

      • Re:Solution (Score:4, Funny)

        by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:50PM (#47976491)
        Don't tax food or medicine. OK, the discrepancy just halved. Wow. I'm a wizard. Look at how fast I fixed that.
        • Don't tax food or medicine. OK, the discrepancy just halved.

          Except that the government will just increase taxes on other common goods to make up for the shortfall.

          Your problem is that you missed the most important sentence in OP's post:

          if you make $24,000 a year, a 20% tax that reduces your income to $18,000 a year is a much greater burden than it is to someone who makes $200,000 a year and has their income reduced to $150,000 a year.

          With a "flat tax," there isn't any way around that issue.

          • by ArcherB ( 796902 )

            Except that the government will just increase taxes on other common goods to make up for the shortfall.
            So? Low income people still spend a lower percentage on their income on those "common goods" than the wealthy.
            You are also missing out on the idea that capital gains will be taxed at the same rate as income. For that matter, all income will taxed at the same rate, so even if you work "under the table", you will still pay taxes.

            With a "flat tax," there isn't any way around that issue.
            There are lots of way

            • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

              by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @04:28PM (#47977689) Homepage Journal

              Except that the government will just increase taxes on other common goods to make up for the shortfall.
              So? Low income people still spend a lower percentage on their income on those "common goods" than the wealthy.

              Actually, the opposite - low income people spend less dollars, but a larger portion of income, on those items than rich people. Plus, you really can't limit spending on "must-have" items like food, shelter, utilities, etc.

              As OP stated, and I already repeated, a 20% tax on a $20,000/yr income is a much larger chunk of income than a 20% tax hit on a $200,000 income.

              With a "flat tax," there isn't any way around that issue.
              There are lots of ways around the issue.
              You could tweak the system further.

              Then it's not a "flat tax," it's a graduated tax system, like the one we already have.

          • The simple answer is to exclude necessity items from the flat tax.

            Any WEC-eligible food item, for example, could easily be tax exempt with minimal reworking of the system, as could, say, any traditionally medicare covered medical or dental service, uniform sales, etc.

            I recognize this opens the door to loophole items into tax exemption, but while we're spitballing utopian tax systems, might as well start somewhere.

        • by GNious ( 953874 )

          Don't tax food [...]

          Having been to the US on occasions, I'd question just what would be exempted by that statement.

          • by ArcherB ( 796902 )

            Most states do this. Back when I was a checker at a grocery store about 30 years ago, we had to learn what food is taxed and what food is not. For example:
            "Juice" products, those that contain nothing but fruit or vegetable juice, are tax free.
            Products labeled "drink" or "punch" are taxable.
            All non-processed food was non-taxable.
            Anything you cook at home was non-taxable. This includes frozen meals such as TV Dinners or frozen pizza.
            Canned goods were non-taxed.
            Potato chips, candy, and other "junk" food is

        • Don't tax food or medicine.

          States that have different tax rates on different goods already face this problem and demonstrate that it isn't as easy as you want to pretend. What is "food"? Is it fair for a poor person who works two jobs and doesn't have time to cook for himself to be paying taxes on prepared food while the idle rich guy can buy caviar and lobster tails with no tax at all?

      • Re:Solution (Score:5, Informative)

        by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:59PM (#47976633)

        If you make $24k a year, you don't pay income tax and most likely get a nice wad a cash courtesy of the U.S. Tax payers.

        • Thats not actually true, though it could be if you hit all of the tax incentives. Even at 10k income you're still getting some tax (though again, there are probably a lot of ways to reduce the burden to $0).

      • The Fair Tax (one sales tax proposal) fixes this by giving a stipend to everyone that's equivalent to taxes paid on necessities. So someone that makes at or below the poverty line will essentially pay no taxes (I don't remember what the exact number is, but I think the stipend was $5Kish, tied to inflation, of course), and someone who makes $200K will pay significantly more, but have the $5K they spent on necessities or so refunded.

        Also, your percentage math is a bit off.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        Ah yes, I see you are familiar with the elementary principle of tax progressivity.

        News flash. You can make consumption taxes just as progressive as you wish. The most trivially obvious measure you can take toward this end is to exempt clothing and food expenses. Most state sales taxes do at least some of this. Clothing and food you buy simply ring up as untaxed on the register.

        You can go well beyond this, too. Issue rebates, as inversely progressive as you wish. You pay a small amount of sales tax during th

      • Re:Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @03:47PM (#47977221) Journal

        Think of it this way; if you make $24,000 a year, a 20% tax that reduces your income to $18,000 a year is a much greater burden than it is to someone who makes $200,000 a year and has their income reduced to $150,000 a year.

        Good! Those making $24,000/yr will finally understand that government money is not free. Then you won't have the problem of people who don't pay taxes voting to raise the tax rate on those that do. Also, if you make $24,000/yr, most of your money is going to food and rent, both of which can be made to be non-taxable.

        A sales tax is still going to a progressive tax since things like food, school supplies, and other absolute necessities won't be taxed at all. See, people only spend so much money on necessities, no matter how much they make. Sure, a billionaire might spend $5 million on a house, but his grocery budget is not going to be 50x more than the guy who spent $100K on a house. So low income people will spend a larger percentage of their income on non-taxed products, meaning they will pay a lower tax rate than the guy who eats out twice a day.

        • Then you won't have the problem of people who don't pay taxes voting to raise the tax rate on those that do.

          Sweet. Now how about the problem of rich people paying for congressmen to lower their taxes? The super rich already got their effective income tax lowered to ~15% as is, whats going to stop them from finagling a $5M house exemption?

        • Those making $24,000/yr will finally understand that government money is not free.

          Finally! Because you know your income level obviously proves that you're horribly ignorant! You tell 'em, bub!

          Then you won't have the problem of people who don't pay taxes voting to raise the tax rate on those that do.

          Because that's what's happening, right. The greedy, selfish... how have I heard it put... "parasite" poor bastards! You gotta make 'em SUFFER what it means to be poor!

          A sales tax is still going to a progressive t

    • Re:Solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by stoploss ( 2842505 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:48PM (#47976479)

      Tax evasions now impossible

      You really undermine your own position when you make farcical statements like that. I would say the overwhelming preponderance of Americans on this site are already evading their state's use tax. Did you remit your sales/use tax due for all your online and other purchases across state lines last year?

      As for sales tax evasion, well, it already happens today. The IRS would just use it as an excuse to further demand all of our financial transactions. The feds already got 80% of the whole country's personally identifiable credit card transactions last year (for the purposes of protecting us from fraud, of course, *cough*). Next up in your scheme: "friendly visits" from IRS agents who will graciously allow you to prove your innocence if you like to use cash more than they believe you should!

      Despite all that, tax evasion will thrive via black markets.

      You either had a failure of imagination or you are just too excited about your proposal.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Tax evasion is never impossible. Have you ever shopped in a pawn shop? Has the proprietor offered you a discount if you pay cash? That's probably because he's not recording the transaction or is recording it at a much lower amount.

      I only single-out pawn shops because everything in the store is used and usually one negotiates a price. This could happen just as easily in a small shop with an owner-operator, with new merchandise, so long as he can cook the books enough to be beneficial for himself witho
      • Yard sales.

        Nobody remits taxes on yard sales.

        • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

          You normally don't need to, because you're not profiting on the items being sold. The only exception would be if you were selling collectibles or some investment item that went up in price, and that's rarely sold at a yard sale.

          • The only exception would be if you were selling collectibles or some investment item that went up in price, and that's rarely sold at a yard sale.

            You must not frequent yard sales, as in reality tons of incredibly valuable collectables are sold at them every weekend - but for far, far less than the item's actual value.

            Of course, all that is unimportant (from a legal standpoint), because the fact remains that somebody is profiting, and nobody is paying taxes on those transactions.

            • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

              Whoops, sorry, I think I was mixing up sales tax and income tax. Discussion of the profit is totally an income tax thing. I don't have any sense of how sales tax applies.

              • I don't have any sense of how sales tax applies.

                Yea, be glad for that. I recently started my own business doing contract work in no less than 4 states, and the differences in how sales tax applies in each is already a huge pain in my ass.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        It's usually not worth it on small purchases, but with bigger ticket purchases I will often ask for a cash discount. Sometimes they counter for less than 3% and then I just lay down a credit card and say "No, thanks, I'll take the credit card points". Some are smart enough to give me the 3%, but I'm more than happy to have them eat the 3% and take the points.

    • Technically, if we're going to bother considering what the U.S. Constitution has to say on the matter, a sales tax is not authorized as it is not a tariff, excise tax, or income tax - the only three taxes currently authorized.

      As an aside, I find it interesting that parent comment gets voted up while A.C. comment directly above it gets voted down into oblivion. I guess the current crop of slashdot mods prefers unconstitutional sales tax to world peace.

      • Technically, if we're going to bother considering what the U.S. Constitution has to say on the matter, a sales tax is not authorized as it is not a tariff, excise tax, or income tax - the only three taxes currently authorized.

        As an aside, I find it interesting that parent comment gets voted up while A.C. comment directly above it gets voted down into oblivion. I guess the current crop of slashdot mods prefers unconstitutional sales tax to world peace.

        Actually, based on the comments above mine I'm kind of surprised I didn't get modded troll as well. But this wouldn't be the first time I got a +5 insightful comments with hundreds of replies that within hours turned into a troll comment. Keep in mind, on slashdot Troll = I disagree ;-) and often people don't disagree until your comment rises due to up-modding.

    • Re:Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @03:03PM (#47976689) Homepage Journal

      End income tax.

      Better idea: revert the legal definition of "income" to what it meant pre-1913.

      Interestingly, before the oft-questioned "passage" of the 16th Amendment, "labor given in exchange for payment" was just that; income was what a business earned as a result of selling a product or service.

    • Tax evasions are possible with the so called "Fair Tax" or "Sales Tax" as you call it. Rich people may find it much cheaper to buy expensive items overseas or in Canada or Mexico and ship them to the USA. That's not something that the average person can afford to do. It may also cause a black market to form where people can buy things on the sly, like electronics, where they pay cash and the sales aren't reported. I have no doubt at all that the rich people in the USA have already thought of ways to a
      • Tax evasions are possible with the so called "Fair Tax" or "Sales Tax" as you call it. Rich people may find it much cheaper to buy expensive items overseas or in Canada or Mexico and ship them to the USA.

        Ok, I randomly picked you to reply to out of all the people that seemed to want to focus on that one part of my statement. Yes, tax evasions always possible. People don't declare their yard sales after all. But your suggestion of buying things over-seas? No, that's not as easy as it sounds. You can't just buy something overseas and not have the US government find out. It's possible in other countries, but in the US you cannot get a credit card that wont declare your purchases to the feds. Prepaid cards don'

    • I prefer LVT (with exemptions for a home and a small bit of farmland).

    • Too complex - there's no need for taxation anymore. It's all a holdover from real money. With fiat currency (since 1971) the government can just print as much money as it needs. The personal income tax raises about $400 billion, which is only about 10% of the budget.

      The only reason for taxation in 2014 is to show that the labor of "citizens" is collateral for the borrowing of the Federal government. But with debts > 1x GDP and unfunded mandates in excess of 10x GDP, even that appears to be unnecessar

    • Quite impossible. If I privately sold you a LP record for $20 cash, how is the IRS going to trace that? Or what if we traded, a LP worth $20 fair market for a LaserDisc worth $15 fair market? They can't track these kinds of transactions now, and they won't be able to no matter what. Tax evasion would skyrocket if you go to a use/sales tax.

      Income tax is actually pretty good. What's bad are the complex web of deductable items. A non-discriminatory revenue tax, with no write offs, would be perfect. And if you

  • Apt Tax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:43PM (#47976397)

    We don't need more rules, more laws, more agents (that cost a shit ton of money at work and in retirement), more jails.

    Just banish most taxes, simplify the system to a low rate transaction tax, don't deal with deductions or deciding which charities or legit or not (tax would be too low to matter in individual cases), stop caring if business are on shore or offshore or if couples are married:
    http://www.apttax.com/ [apttax.com]

    Of course, by nature, bureacracy always has to build itself up, never deconstruct itself, so don't expect to see it short of in the face of a revolution.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Do you personally know anyone that has been to jail for income tax evasion?

      I actually do. He was just convicted within the last couple of months. He'll be in for four years, as he didn't pay any income tax or file for at least four years, to the tune of several million dollars. Instead he spent the money on his automobile collection, which has subsequently been seized and is being sold to pay what he owes.

      This was a very rich man. He could have easily afforded his taxes while maintaining a standar
    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      This actually isn't a bad system at all. Since the poor become a very small part of the tax base in such a system it probably wouldn't be regressive compared to something like a use tax. If it turns out to be regressive, then just raise the rate a bit and have basic income to make up for it.

  • 10% across the board. Corperate,personal,investments, etc. no loopholes, no deductions, no exemptions. A fair tax. Something the rich utterly hate.

    • "Every complex problem has a solution thats clear, simple, and wrong"

      -- Someone

      I'll start with the obvious:
      2013 US GDP: $17 T (10% = $1.7 T)
      2013 US Bugdet: $3.45 T

      As to whats fair, the rich would love your flat tax. 10% of a poor family's monthly income can be a weeks worth of food. 10% of most 1%ers monthly income is...sitting around somewhere because the boat is already gassed up and full of booze. "Oh Oh but they earned their money"... thanks to the often overlooked service provided by the government: a stable society in which poor people are doing just well enough

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:57PM (#47976601) Homepage Journal

    The current IRS regulations effectively require people to overpay their income taxes, which results in nearly everyone getting a refund, which they want processed quickly, because somehow it's okay if the government is holding money you didn't actually owe, until you actually know how much they're holding. If, on the other hand, people have to mail in a check they don't care if it takes the IRS a few months to verify everything.

    Simple solution: Eliminate the regulations that require overpayment, such as the regulation that penalizes you for underpaying if your withholdings are inadequate to cover your liabilities and aren't at lease as large as the prior year's withholdings. Some, perhaps many, people will still choose to overpay, as a sort of brain-dead savings plan, but many will reduce their withholdings, and those that still overpay will have no basis for complaint about a slower refund, since it was their choice.

    But, then, I think the whole concept of mandatory withholdings is evil and wrong. It's just one of many ways that taxpayers are misled about how much they're paying. It's not the worst of such deceptions, but it's a significant one.

    • Just switch to a PAYE system like we have in the Uk most people don't have to bother with a tax return
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @03:02PM (#47976663) Homepage Journal

    We wouldn't have this problem if we filed our taxes online. Turbotax has prevented that, because they want to charge us for doing what the government could do free, as it does in less corrupt countries.

    We've discussed this on Slashdot before. It's like keeping marijuana illegal because the prison guards' unions want to keep their jobs.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/mon... [slate.com]
    The Sleazy PR Campaign to Prevent the IRS From Making Your Taxes Simpler
    By Jordan Weissmann
    Slate
    April 14 2014 3:41 PM

    Theoretically, it should be far easier for Americans with simple finances to file their tax returns. Instead of making tax filers putz around W-2s and tax prep software, the IRS could electronically prepopulate their paperwork with the information it already receives from banks and employers, and tell filers how much they owe. If the final figure looked about right, you’d have the option to file. As Matt Yglesias wrote here last year, the whole process could be a five-minute snap.

    Theoretically. But for years now, Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, has fought tooth and nail to prevent automatic tax filing from becoming a reality, lobbying against bipartisan legislation to introduce it with the help of a powerful tech industry trade group and conservative anti-taxers like Grover Norquist. Intuit and its competitors in online tax prep don’t want the government cutting its market share. The tax-crusaders want to ensure that paying the government remains as much of a painful, resentment-generating slog as ever. And thus a potent alliance has been born.

    http://www.propublica.org/arti... [propublica.org]
    How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing
    by Liz Day
    ProPublica, March 26, 2013, 5 a.m.

    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. Conservative tax activist Grover Norquist and an influential computer industry group also have fought return-free filing.

    Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years — more than Apple or Amazon. Although the lobbying spans a range of issues, Intuit's disclosures pointedly note that the company "opposes IRS government tax preparation."

    The disclosures show that Intuit as recently as 2011 lobbied on two bills, both of which died, that would have allowed many taxpayers to file pre-filled returns for free. The company also lobbied on bills in 2007 and 2011 that would have barred the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, from initiating return-free filing.

    Intuit argues that allowing the IRS to act as a tax preparer could result in taxpayers paying more money. It is also a member of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which sponsors a "STOP IRS TAKEOVER" campaign and a website calling return-free filing a "massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program."

    • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @03:22PM (#47976899) Homepage
      I would be happy if the government would just provide PDF forms with just enough brains so that you could fill them in and they would automatically do the calculations for you. Then give people the option to either sent those in electronically or print and mail the damn things. The automatic online filing would be a godsend but I would settle for PDFs with fields and auto calculations that I would have to print and mail.
    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      I paid my taxes online (Federal and state), though I did have to type in a few numbers. Looks like they're fairly close to being able to make it automatic, but I found it pretty weird I had to reference a lookup table in a PDF to get a value based on another value on the form.
    • by hondo77 ( 324058 )

      We wouldn't have this problem if we filed our taxes online. Turbotax has prevented that, because they want to charge us for doing what the government could do free, as it does in less corrupt countries.

      I have filed my fiance's parents' taxes for free [irs.gov] for the past three years, so I don't know what you're on about.

  • The IRS could do a lot with a few simple checks:

    • Is the refund going to the same bank account as the last refund for this taxpayer? If yes, there's a minimal risk of fraud. The taxpayer would've complained if last year's refund was stolen.
    • Is the taxpayer's name on the account the refund's going to, and has the account been open more than a year? If yes, the risk of fraud's low. Banks typically don't let you open accounts without checking some physical ID.
    • Is the refund check being mailed to the same address
  • Easy Fix (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @04:33PM (#47977751) Homepage Journal

    Repeal the 16th Amendment (or just admit it was never legally ratified), reset the legal meaning of "income" from "money given in exchange for labor" back to "capital gains as a result of business profits," and BOOM!

    Problem solved.

  • by Bourdain ( 683477 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @07:42PM (#47979243)
    (1) Our tax structure isn't going to change meaningfully anytime soon
    (2) The IRS won't allow or enforce any sort of efile for everyone in the short-term
    (3) The IRS does allow you to file Form 14039 which puts a flag on your account which will make it harder for someone to cheat you out of your refund because your account will go through extra checks (such as making sure that your address and other information hasn't changed from last year since most information breaches don't contain all of the information necessary to file your tax return) and will reject fraudulent looking returns
    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf... [irs.gov]
    (4) The IRS might decide to, upon filing form 14039 or if you have experienced a fraudulent return filed for you, a distinct PIN which is like a PIN for a credit freeze


    Morale of the story if you're concerned about not getting your refund
    -file form 8822 when you change address and notify your employees and other agencies which file forms on your behalf to have your current address so all filings point to the same physical address
    -file form 14039 to have the identify theft flag added to your profile
    -always try to arrange so you owe a little money come tax time (but not so much that you owe a penalty) so your refund is not in purgatory in the event of a fraudulent return filed on your behalf
    -if you do indeed get a refund, try to file as early as possible to beat out a fraudster

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