TurboTax and Leviathan

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Tax Freedom Day was yesterday, so you are now officially working to support yourself. Doesn't it seem suspicious that the occasion just happens to fall right after the tax return deadline?

Speaking of which, an op-ed piece in Friday's New York Times suggested that TurboTax aids the unexamined growth of government by making it too easy to file returns.

NEXT: So Does This Mean Science Is Bullshit?

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  1. So “tax freedom” day was yesterday. When is “free from stupid government regulations” day?

  2. So the fat cats at TurboTax are making it too easy to file tax returns?

    …those bastards!

    Obviously we need a congressional investigation, hearings and some new legislation–that’ll put a stop to it.

  3. He’s griping that technology & tax services make the tax burden are “are (protecting us) from grappling with the worst features of the modern tax system”?

    How about removing the mandatory tax withholding from our paychecks? We’ll see how leviathan the government gets when we have to chop off an arm to pay the yearly tax bill.

    How about posting on our tax bill the exact percent of what we’re about to pay goes to each agency?

    How about providing just a sample questionnaire with each tax bill – asking you how what percent of your yearly taxes would like to go to defense? to “welfare”? to ag subsidies? to debt service? (or better yet, YOU fill in the dollar amounts of what you really would like to pay).

    He has a point, but conveniences like TurboTax are the least of our problems.

  4. Ironchef,

    Yeah, it’s the withholding that really shields people from pain. Blame Uncle Milty! Switching to a consumption tax (with the tax explicitly listed on the receipt) would also drill the cost of big government into many a skull.

    My taxes have become byzantine enough that I wouldn’t want to approach them without TurboTax.

  5. Cue Joe to explain why this day is falling far, far too early in the year…

  6. I’ve been saying this for years–electronic filing is collaboration, plain and simple. It makes it WAY too easy for the bastards. EVERYBODY should paper file by snail mail–why the hell would any sane person want to enhance the efficiency of the IRS?

    Choke the cocksuckers on forests of milled trees.

    (Sorry, but I read the Deadwood post before this one)

  7. I file electronically when I’m expecting a refund, and I file by mail in April when I have to pay.

  8. Do you postdate your payment check too?

  9. It is practically impossible to calculate when tax freedom day occurs for anyone but myself.

    I pay myself $5000 per month, gross. Out of that I write a check to myself for $3048. That is, I get about 61% of my gross income. Using an Excel speadsheet, that comes out to May 23rd.

    I am not including local property taxes or sales taxes. I am not including hidden employer matching taxes on FICA and Medicare. Make it July something.

  10. Dave,

    Good idea!

  11. Switching to a consumption tax (with the tax explicitly listed on the receipt) would also drill the cost of big government into many a skull.

    A consumption tax forces every businessman to be a surrogate tax collector. If the governement wants to collect taxes, let them do it themselves.

  12. A consumption tax forces every businessman to be a surrogate tax collector. If the governement wants to collect taxes, let them do it themselves.

    Businessmen are collecting taxes now, such as sales tax and that withholding Ironchef just mentioned. Switching to a consumption tax would make life easier for everybody else.

    By the way, if you’re self-employed, there really is no such thing as withholding. People doing contract work have to send in estimated payments, and those of us who formed corporations deduct withholding when we pay ourselves, but we have to write the checks to the government ourselves. It’s always a very painful time in my life.

  13. What amazes me about the tax preparation process is that every year Turbo Tax gets more powerful and still the taxes get more complicated. I think there must be about 4 different types of IRA, several different tax-sheltered savings accounts, and all kinds of chances to average, recapture, or rollover something.

  14. Mark,

    Businessmen are collecting taxes now, such as sales tax and that withholding Ironchef just mentioned. Switching to a consumption tax would make life easier for everybody else.

    So it’s OK to screw employers ever more, but it’s not OK to inconvenience employees at all. Where is morallity behind that.

  15. Speaking of which, an op-ed piece in Friday’s New York Times suggested that TurboTax aids the unexamined growth of government by making it too easy to file returns. They’ve got to be kidding, right? I used TurboTax to do my taxes this year, and it took me two weeks, rumaging through enough legalese to choke a DA, and the first case of heartburn I’ve ever had.

    If TurboTax is too easy, then I expect that doing the shit manually must include having pins driven into eyes and feet being severed at the ankles.

  16. Father Richard-

    Point well taken. The latest issue of the Economist includes this observation: With a flat tax the payroll taxes would be much easier. Right now, the progressive tax code means that different employees’ paychecks are subject to withholding at different rates, meaning separate and detailed paperwork for each employee. With a flat tax, a company could figure out the withholding based on the entire payroll instead of doing it separately for each employee.

    And yes, I know, there would still be the standard libertarian objections to any income tax. But the point is that a flat tax without deductions would be less costly to administer, and also involve less economic micromanagement than the current tax code.

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