Comments on: Eliminating 100 million tax returns Sat, 23 Mar 2013 13:49:31 +0000 hourly 1 By: revko Sat, 21 Apr 2012 07:04:21 +0000 When a taxpayer in one of these states files an income tax return the money that comes to them as a return is coming from the state treasury, right? If the taxes never made it to the state but are sitting in a company’s bank account are those returns now an additional deficit to the state’s treasury or is the company charged for the return?

By: rentpayer Sun, 15 Apr 2012 15:53:14 +0000 “We don’t trust amateurs to inspect elevators or audit charities, so why do we let just anyone charge for preparing tax returns?”
The difference is that everyone is obligated to pay income tax, therefore it is unjust to make it too complicated for most folks to understand. Also, as documented by Sudhir Venkatesh in “Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor,” many poor people earn a small income by preparing income tax returns for their friends and neighbors.

@TheOldSodbuster: As a single-taxer, I have long supported elimination of all taxes except on land rent and privilege. “Tax bads, not goods” is a good start.

By: Karibou Sat, 14 Apr 2012 18:22:57 +0000 The transactional friction that comes with tax preparation certainly creates an “artificial” economy within the tax compliance industry, but I have a hard time believing that this is what has kept the income tax reporting requirements in effect. I tend to believe that the U.S. government rather likes the idea of the mandatory reporting of so much sensitive information, both because it allows a special window into what people are up to, and because it keeps the citizenry just a little bit trained in being subservient. What a crime though to make so many people suffer so much angst over the filing of income taxes if the real goal is to simply collect a little revenue.

By: TheOldSodbuster Fri, 13 Apr 2012 00:54:10 +0000 @paintcan your reply merits being post in itself. 2% of our population produces all our food. We must trade something to get in on that. The New Economics Foundation proposes eloquently a 21 hour work week. With culture, we, like the Athenians could develop truly fine arts, objects, tools and pottery, but we might have to reconsider trading quantity our current maxi-miser in for quality. We could make an trade art objects on our own time.

The magic of our mutual multiplication of wealth as we traded our skills was made physical when the ‘middle class’ was an economic, not a political term, when we could trade with each other. Now, as a stratified economy, we can not even have equal protection under the law, when Joe makes $40k and Jamie make $40 million.

Back to taxes…. It is near religion for some to avoid taxes; a game for accountants and lawyers who are the anointed priests in their black suits. A grim, immoral religion that avoids the simple dictum of allowing those who benefit most from society pay in proportion to the benefit. Good thinking in two ways: A) they can, and B) it is moral.

Unpopular as Hermann Daly’s dictum has been for the last 40 years: ‘Tax Bads, not Goods’, it is still a wise vision. Tax what we do not want. Tax what harms us. Oh but this would take a rational and deliberative legislature. What was I thinking?

In our society we seem to have exchanged money for honor. And through slight of hand made it impolite to talk about money; who gets how much, who dodges their share. Thus… there is no honor. That is a problem. For without that, there is only gaining idea and decay. The book, Debt, the First 5,000 Years brings this into vivid relief.

By: possibilianP Wed, 11 Apr 2012 18:06:12 +0000 I read one of Luntz’s books about a year ago. That is, I forced myself to read it until the end. My conclusion is that he is a delusional, highly-biased, irrational, and illogical thinker. The book was one totally irrational conclusion based on little, no, or highly-selected facts after another. How people like Luntz can sell books is a bad reflection on the people who buy the books. Admittedly, I was one of those people, but it was only to see if the title delivered on what it said it would deliver. It did not. Not at all. I will not buy another.

By: paintcan Wed, 11 Apr 2012 10:03:26 +0000 @xcanada- Thankyou very much. That is very encouraging. I always read yours too. It’s a wonderful hobby and it keeps my head from turning to stone.

I still can’t spell or punctuate properly (not without the computer) but I think there have been improvements? It takes practice or I forget what I learned.

I really didn’t think mine was one of the better aimed comments. I am a little desperate now and I would take make work if I could get it.

By: EllenWallace Wed, 11 Apr 2012 08:34:19 +0000 Bravo, and I’ve just posted a link to this on, Swiss news in English site, because the gross complexity of the US tax filing system is a nightmare for Americans abroad – in particular the very large number who don’t owe any tax to the US because they are already paying another government, who have nothing but wages and retirement income to report and who have no alternative but to pay tax preparers fees that are far higher than what HR Block or other corner shops charge. I think our readers will be very interested in what you have to say.

I think it’s worth noting that having spent years as a US taxpayer, I was astonished to learn how quick and easy the Swiss tax filing system is for citizens and residents here, with the result that there is little fraud or abuse. Despite a steady stream of US headlines about Switzerland and tax cheats (wealthy Americans who don’t live in Switzerland), the Swiss have a very good record for tax compliance, which has a lot to do with the government making it easy to file. The federal government here doesn’t need an army of tax collectors to hunt down abusers of the system.

I can file my family’s taxes, including those for a handicapped adult who receives a government pension, in an hour.

Systems like this really do work.

By: mysuri Tue, 10 Apr 2012 16:23:09 +0000 I agree with the above, I even posted this to the White house website and I am in agreement with the odds of this not happening as our congress is pretty much useless.

Even though I itemize my deductions, I still don’t have anything that the IRS does not know about, all forms 1099s to the different schedules are already sent by the banks to the IRS. So, all the IRS has to do is give us a choice, ask during the beginning of the year if I need my tax return be prepared by IRS and if I agree then they should do it. These days, as the Software has become so advanced that IRS may not have to spend much man power to prepare simple tax returns such as mine!!
Keep buying Intuit’s stock I guess.

By: xcanada2 Tue, 10 Apr 2012 15:40:50 +0000 @paintcan

You are also one of my favorite writers on Reuters, giving your great energy and original thoughts.

By: scottindallas Tue, 10 Apr 2012 13:38:14 +0000 David, I wish you’d do an article describing how far higher top marginal rates would benefit capital intensive production over “capital lite” production. Not only is this encouraged by reinvestment of Gross Profits into deductible avenues like employee benefits, R&D, advertising, expansion and capital investment. Capital is particularly benefited thanks to the depreciation schedule. The higher the nominal rate, the greater the value of those depreciations.

So, low taxes actually encourage capital lite production, corporate exec profligacy, finance, lobbying, professional services, outsourcing and off-shoring are all encouraged by low taxes. I agree that we should simplify the tax code, but making it broader and lower is a mistake. Look at GE and GM, they’ve both run to finance since Reagan, raise those tax rates and they’d have invested in capital plants.

Low taxes make it profitable to liquidate capital plants, whereas, high taxes make it untenable, and even places a premium on domestic expenditures.