Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren Wants the IRS To Create Its Own TurboTax. What Could Go Wrong?

A simplified tax code is the answer, not giving the IRS more funding.


Earlier this week, New York Times editorial board member Binyamin Applebaum wrote an opinion column criticizing Intuit's decision to exit from the federal program that allowed some people to use the free version of the company's TurboTax software. Applebaum accused Intuit of "abandoning the pretense of good citizenship" in favor of seeking profit before making his real case: that the federal government, more specifically the IRS, should make their own tax-filing software—an argument enthusiastically applauded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), who rarely misses an opportunity to decry a company for "chasing profits."

There's some truth to Applebaum's criticism: In 2002, the government made a deal with the tax-prep industry, called the Free File Program, which guaranteed that companies like Intuit would provide their services free-of-charge to qualifying taxpayers. Although about 70 percent of taxpayers are technically eligible to take advantage of these free offerings, only 2.4 percent actually do. This may be in part because the IRS has not advertised the program in many years (a failure of government!) and because the tax-prep companies themselves, acting in their own self-interest, sometimes use design and coding tricks to ensure would-be customers get directed toward the paid version of the software.

But even the paid "deluxe" version of TurboTax—the software produced by Intuit, which had about 60 percent market share as of 2019—costs only $60. (The company says this version is their most commonly used offering.) For many taxpayers, this cost is a small imposition that comes around once a year that greatly simplifies filing and paying taxes. It's hard to see how a government-run version would handle tax filing better than TurboTax does.

There's also a concerning incentives problem created by government-run software that seeks to help people file taxes. TurboTax has every reason to help taxpayers take advantage of all deductions available to them and even pledges to refund the software purchase price if another tax-filing software gets a customer more money back. TurboTax also provides services, for a fee, like audit insurance. But an IRS-built system would probably be built to represent government interests, not to maximize your deduction or protect you from the prying hands of those meddlesome auditors.

For those of us who have provided interest-free loans to the government this year, and have struggled to get reliable information from the IRS on when they'll get around to sending out tax refunds (ahem!), it's hard to imagine this highly dysfunctional government agency doing a better job at helping people file their taxes than the existing market players who have provided an immensely valuable service to millions of Americans.

Yes, other countries have better, simpler ways of collecting taxes from their citizens, and the IRS creating a publicly funded free system could make filing easier, if it functioned better than competitors' software (which is a giant if). But the real way to fix the problems with tax filing is to simplify the tax code—something that companies like Intuit are guilty of lobbying against, but something that's well within a senator's power to champion.

But Warren would never. For one, she's a proponent of wealth taxes, which would require the IRS chasing down the vast and rarely liquid fortunes of billionaires and millionaires, who have great ability and incentive to find creative ways to write off their wealth and offshore their fortunes. Never mind that wealth taxes winnow away those fortunes over time and would likely incentivize more consumption by people who would otherwise see their fortunes taxed away. That Warren fails to grapple with the logistical impossibility of this Herculean task and instead wants the government to take over for Intuit (with more funding sent to the IRS), shows just how unserious she is about reforming the tax code in a practical way, despite the fact that she could marshal her power to bring legislative attention to the issue.

"Our problem is inequality," said Binyamin in an NPR interview, "and the solution is to make inequality an explicit focus of public policy. Not just 'is this good for society as a whole?' which is a meaningless abstraction, but who actually will be the beneficiaries? And if the answer is that wealth concentrates at the top, then we ought to reconsider those policies."

Warren, who wants a wealth tax for those at the "tippy-top," shares Binyamin's ethos. Regrettably, their proposed solution—a TurboTax equivalent developed and run by the IRS—will not level inequality or benefit those at the bottom rung the way they claim. It will be dysfunctional at best, and fail to represent taxpayers' best interests at worst, all while spending more money the federal government doesn't have.

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  1. And by IRS Turbo Tax, Warren means turbocharging all tax rates and applications.

    1. Supercharging it too, even turbosupercharging it (thanks, Greg!).

        1. You will love this online job… http://WWW.JOB62.COM

    2. Let’s hope age takes its toll sooner than later for Warren. Although the idiots in Massachusetts will probably elect someone worse in her place.

      1. OMG, she is dumb as a post. Her mind plods. Her words are like lumps of lead dropping on a tin roof.

    3. If Warren et al really want to increase tax collections, simplify the tax code. Less opportunity to cheat, less expensive to enforce & collect.

      What am I saying???!!! How would politicians get campaign funds without tax favors to hand out?

    4. I can only imagine the chaos that will ensue with government employees trying to do our taxes…

  2. I used to work for contractors who made software for the federal government (boy I’m glad to be out of that!). Creating government software is a major shitshow even with private contractors doing most of the work. Your typical government managers of these projects are not software people; requirements management is a nightmare, and designing the user interface is worse. The schedules are usually grossly unrealistic. It’s a miracle if a government software program works at all, never mind working well.

    1. And the government users cling bitterly to outdated hardware, operation systems, etc. Some of them angrily resist even updating their browsers, even if the updates contain crucial security fixes.

      1. Not naming names, but two years ago I got hired into a very large organization you would all recognize. Weening them off their Excel Spreadsheets was a nightmare.

        1. LOL if you succeeded at that you’re a better man than I!

          1. Not me… I got them to import into access.

            1. Start making money this time… Spend more time with your family & relatives by doing jobs that only require you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $65000 to $70000 a month. I’ve started this job and earn a handsome income and now I am exchanging it with you, so you can do it too.
              You can check it out here…—–> READ MORE

            2. Lol ewww.

        2. That tells us nothing without saying what they were used for.

      2. That’s if the IT Dept authorizes the user to do so. Like that is going to happen. Anywhere.

      3. Hey, I thought only the right had bitter clingers…where is the doofus reverend of yore?

    2. Why don’t they hire the outfit that wrote the Obamacare website, they have a excellent track record of only being a year or so late and only a few hundred million over budget.

      That’s way better than average performance for federal contracts.

    3. How can you make such a specious claim? I remember what a model of efficiency the original Obamacare registration software was, an example for the whole industry! Public private partnerships at their finest.

  3. Elizabeth Warren came in third in her home state–behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. in the 2020 Democrat primaries in Massachusetts, 80% of Democrats voted for someone other than Elizabeth Warren. She didn’t win a single district.


    What Warren thinks should be done doesn’t even appear to matter to Massachusetts Democrats. If she survives the primaries in 2024, I’ll be surprised.

  4. Retail TT costs that, but you can get it cheaper on sale somewhere.

    Sacagawea Warren be crazy anyway.

    1. “What could go wrong?” Very long answer for that question. “What could go right?” Almost nothing could go right.

  5. Let’s go with the Steve Forbes plan: Switch to a flat tax so that form 1040 will fit on a postcard. Problem solved.

    1. That was fine back when the rate could be 15%. Now it has to be 30% to balance the budget.

      1. What has balancing the budget got to do with tax rates?

      2. That ignores the possibility of lowering expenditures to balance the budget. Given that there is another solution to the problem, you simply made an assertion of a preference rather than a statement of fact.

        1. That ignores the possibility of lowering expenditures to balance the budget.

          Is this your first day in America? Congress has made it abundantly clear that they will move heaven and earth to prevent this from happening.

          1. Unfortunately I must agree with you. If you even cut the rate of increase–never mind a real cut!–the howling about “austerity” starts up.

        2. there is no possibility of lowering expenditures, for any reason. Thomas Jefferson can’t be elected again, for multiple reasons.

    2. I’d vote for anyone who would institute a 15% flat tax, even White Squaw.

      1. She big heap leftist.

    3. The complexity isn’t in the tax rates, it’s in the definition of taxable income. Forbes has no answer for that. Neither do the Fair Tax guys…

      1. income should never be taxed. Solved.

    4. I do agree with that, but it would also put a metric shit ton of people out of work ( those who make a living off of the needless complexities of the tax code ). Don’t expect the lobbies ( and the IRS itself ) that represent all those tax prep outfits and individuals would allow such a thing.

    5. “Let’s go with the Steve Forbes plan: Switch to a flat tax so that form 1040 will fit on a postcard. Problem solved…”

      We had someone who cut taxes, but TDS-addled shits like you decided to take an adolescent focus on his personality instead of his accomplishments, so WE got what TDS-addled assholes like YOU deserve.

  6. The IRS already has its own tax filing software: you can download all the forms, instructions, and publications you want, all day long from their website. Then lick a few stamps and mail it in. Or say “screw it, I have better things to do” and it’s worth $60 to click through the turbotax screens even for someone like me who’s an actual CPA.

    1. After trump tax, it’s really a no brainer

    2. Their forms are a joke, just like their software would be. They have no interest in explaining anything. I dare anyone who doesn’t already know to figure out the calculation principles behind the taxability of Social Security benefits by looking at the forms. And nowhere on the IRS web site is it explained. Just cryptic explanations such as …”up to 85% of benefits may be taxable….” May be? How about telling us the actual calculations? They write the forms to make the calculations, yet they can’t be bothered to explain them.

    3. She won her senate seat in 2018 with 60% of the vote, getting 7% more of the vote than she did in 2012. Presumably, proposing legislation such as this is what MA voters like about her.

    4. IRS publications are intentionally written to be vague and do not answer pertinent regulatory and taxation questions. This is by design because courts often defer to regulatory agencies’ explanations of their own rules and practices. The term is escaping me but I know I’ve seen it written about here regarding other subjects.

  7. They pretty much know already how much you owe. Every significant transaction is already tracked. It would save a lot of time and trouble for a lot of people if they just sent you the summary and let you either accept it or file an attachment documenting the additional deductions and credits you are claiming.

    1. That would make the IRS efficient. Do you know how many Public Sector Union jobs would be lost?

      1. I’ll take “none of them” for $200 – – – – –

        1. Correct. You control the board.

          1. I’ll take Anal Bum Cover for $100.

    2. That would be great if we had actual patriotic Americans in Congress looking out for the commoner instead of their rich buddies (who lo and behold own stock in all these companies that profit off government dysfunction.)

      1. Who do you have in mind? Ms. Warren certainly doesn’t qualify as “looking out for the commoner”.

      2. “That would be great if we had actual patriotic Americans in Congress looking out for the commoner instead of their rich buddies…’

        Lefty shit still thinks daddy is going to give him ponies!

  8. Healthcare.gov was a massive success.

    Im sure a system that needs to deal with many times more people with complex financial situations will go well.

    1. You realize sarcasm doesn’t come through very well on the screen, don’t you.

  9. You can just imagine how user-friendly an IRS-developed software package would be.

  10. Allowing IRS to have the equivalent of TurboTax is the equivalent of “allowing the fox to watch the henhouse “. The IRS has ZERO interest in identifying tax deduction. credits, etc. If you don’t identify or request a deduction or credit, you lose it. Private tax preparation have an incentive to provide a service to the customer. The customer is the taxpayer for tax preparation services. Taxpayers have no similar concept for taxpayers. Taxpayers exist to extract as much tax as legally possible and they are not going to be a neutral arbiter let alone an advocate for taxpayers. IRS is assumed to be correct before proven wrong beyond a reasonable doubt.

  11. It’s too late to take away all of Bill Gates’s, Jeff Bezos’s, or Warren Buffet’ wealth. They’re able to hire too many lawyers and accountants to defend it. They’ll all die off in the next 25 years or so and their fortunes will be spread among heirs and charitable trusts. However, it is well within the government’s ability to squelch the opportunities for someone who is not yet wealthy but trying to become so. Illinois, for example, has really figured this out and is a model for the nation.

    1. Hence the Biden/Harris plan to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, to find out how 60% of small businesses actually survived the lockdowns.

  12. Postcard tax form:
    Line 1 Total income from all sources =
    Line 2 Total taxes withheld =
    Subtract line 2 from line 1; this is the balance due

    1. no tax form at all. You buy something, you pay a national sales tax. No forms. No credits. No rebates. No write-offs. No depreciation. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

  13. The IRS will be incentivized to maximize tax liability. Since Warren is concerned that the poorest among us can’t afford the 60 bucks for TT, she will in effect be harming them by maximizing their tax burden/reducing their personal wealth.

    The “rich” will still pay 60 bucks and pay less in taxes.

    I hate this woman so much.

    1. If all the people like Warren suddenly dropped dead from strokes, we would be so much better off. They’re truly evil.

  14. Fair Tax or some other National Sales Tax. Pay as you go. No paperwork. No record keeping. No audits. Why do we have to confess to Uncle Sam’s enforcers how much we earn?

    1. Because long ago when congress was voting on an amendment to allow income tax the progressives lied about how many states voted to ratify

    2. How about an Alternative Maximum Tax?
      Feds spend 6 trillion say.
      There are 120 million taxpayers or so.
      Your fair share is 50K.
      If you pay the 50K, you don’t have to document anything, just send in the check.
      If you want to pay less than 50K, you have to prove financial hardship, deductions, credits, etc.

      1. Oh yeah. 50k is cheap for the wealthy, and they save more money not paying accountants & lawyers. The rest of us don’t have 50k, and would HAVE to spend the time and effort to not pay that much.

        1. You should stop being poor.

  15. The government shouldn’t be relying on private industry to provide essential services.

    The wrongness of this should disqualify Warren from public office. Head-shaking, eye-rolling, stupid, misguided and dangerous.

    Elizabeth Warren: stupid bitch, or mendacious cunt?

    History will decide.

    1. Elizabeth Warren: stupid bitch, or mendacious cunt?

      Why the “or”? stupid bitch AND mendacious cunt.

    2. She’s right! It’s not like private industry provides essential items like military weapons, computers, construction equipment, paper products, vehicles, etc. etc. The government manufactures all of it.

  16. How are they goi g to reward their cronies in the real estate and solar panel industries if there is a flat tax?
    Or even worse, national sales tax?
    That would encourage saving!
    Cant have that

  17. Imagine arguing against the government making taxes EASIER and CHEAPER to be paid to them.

    Sure, the tax code should be simplified. But that doesn’t make your argument valid that the government should not, you know, do the thing where you could mail a postcard in for your taxes.

    Simply put, it’s ridiculous how hard and convoluted taxes are for the majority of Americans and how they’re basically cornered and led to pay money to a private corporation for the simple citizen duty that is paying taxes.

    But what else would we expect from the Koch knob slobbers who follow their master in wanting EVERYTHING privatized. You’d rather have Turbotax make a buck than see the government do anything well (something made ever harder because we have people in Congress determined to see it fail.)

    1. “Imagine arguing against the government making taxes EASIER and CHEAPER to be paid to them.”

      Imagine being naïve enough to believe the govt when they say they will do it better, faster, cheaper. Do you believe all the infomercials on at night that tell you you’ll be ripped with just 20 minutes of working out 3x per week too?

      I bet the residents of CA were saying the same thing. “The govt is going to give us a high speed rail to quickly and cheaply travel the state.” A few billion and zero trains later. But at least the taxpayers got to fund some govt jobs.

      There’s a reason Amazon can get me a package in 2 days or less and the USPS takes at least a week for a much higher cost. It turns out when you privatize things and have somebody that actually cares about results / a bottom line, shit gets done.

      1. Then why does Amazon’s business model rely so heavily on the USPS?

        1. Because it’s cheaper to use a government program that runs a perpetual deficit because it charges less than it costs to deliver parcels. It’s smart business.

          1. Of course it is smart business. It’s also smart business for Amazon not to build its own highway infrastructure for its trucks to drive on.

            None of this is in principle a problem for me. You’re the one singing the praises of the unfettered free market when the example in question is a company using vast amounts of public resources and pocketing the profit.

            1. What else are they supposed to do? That’s an incredibly stupid argument. Yes the private sector can always do better, but it makes no sense to, as a matter of principle, refuse to use what’s already there.

              1. Yes, it makes perfect sense for a private company to avail itself of public infrastructure. Indeed, the existence of that private infrastructure makes the existence of that and uncountable other private companies possible. Thank you for discovering the logic of taxation. Took you long enough.

                1. Excuse me, but I think you meant to say we did taxes because Modern Monetary Theory says we need to reduce inflation and give value to the dollar, not to actually pay for services rendered.

            2. You really manage to combine smug and stupid in an impressive manner.

              1. I’m getting to the age where I have to decide whether to continue working on my problem of smugness or to accept it as part of my identity.

                1. So you’ve entered the acceptance phase of the “stupid” portion?

                  1. Personal acceptance is unbreakably linked to social acceptance.

                2. At least you’re a consistently retarded faggot.

            3. Do you even see your own logic here? You’re suggesting that because the feds have monopolized so many aspects of our daily lives that private enterprise takes advantage of public resources.

              Yes, it would be stupid for Amazon to build private roads given the State has already done so. No, that is not an argument in favor of the State building roads. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Amazon would build better roads than the State, but why waste their time and money figuring it out?

              I don’t know what good it would do but I feel like you should read up about the history of water rights in the US. There’s a lot of valuable lessons to be learned in terms of the different public/private schemes that were enacted and the silliness that emerges from mixed expectations about use, maintenance of, and ownership.

    2. Seriously?

      The government has never made anything easier or cheaper in the history of government. Sure they make stuff appear cheaper by making other people pay for it, but literally everything government touches become increasingly difficult and wasteful.

      Not to mention the fact that if they screw up, they won’t take responsibility. They write the rules, enforce them, and judge them. That kind of power is always abused. Don’t give them more.

      1. That is a bizarre article of faith not backed in evidence or logic.

        1. Evidence and logic are a waste of time on you, Mister “not taking is giving, not giving is taking, property is force, there’s no difference between initiating force and reacting to force….”

          Your brain is broken. Any comments I make to your posts are for the benefit of people with functional brains, and are not meant for conversation. At least not with you anyway.

          1. Sorry for challenging your deeply cherished simplistic dogmatic bullshit.

            If you believe so deeply that government can’t do anything well, and you vote for politicians who promise to prove you right, what am I supposed to do with that? Parse the distinction between stupidity and malice?

            1. You don’t challenge anything but my patience.

            2. Tony, you’re an idiot who worships government. You really are a waste of time.

              1. I worship nothing.

                1. You worship the government and the politicians you like, fucking retarded faggot.

                2. In your way you do. I know you have no real reverence for anything, as you are a sociopath. You feign empathy for others to use as a weapon. Just lie, you leverage prog victim status as a homo to your advantage. You are an adherent to Marxism and the socialists for the same reason, yet still devoted to their religion.

        2. Surprise, the statist has complete faith in the state despite it proving, every time, that it does things slower, more expensive, with shittier outcomes.

          Have you considered living in a communist country? Might be eye opening for you.

          1. Proof requires evidence. And I don’t have complete faith. Obviously any human institution can be flawed or fail spectacularly. I simply think we should make the attempt to do it well, whereas you seem to think you have it all figured out already and we should go straight to anarchy.

            1. Yet you slavishly worship your democrat masters. While us ‘Trumptards’ consistently question everything.

          2. Like Sowell, I mostly trusted government until I got a job that had me walk the halls of a federal building. The people who weren’t literally sleeping at their desks were hanging out and having coffee. People posted sudoku accomplishments on the walls of their cubes, some did origami, others build models. When they got really bored they’d do some work. Maybe. The waste was unbelievable. We’re talking hundreds of people. That was one floor of one building. It’s impossible to imagine how wasteful and ineffective government is. The only thing that saves us from tyranny is incompetence and laziness.

            1. No government agency can be expected to achieve the level of employee dedication and efficiency as your local Subway.

              The military is a government institution. Are they also lazy and useless? Should we have a private military so we are sure to get some of that market efficiency in the national defense labor force?

              1. A business would consolidate positions and let people go. Government never does that. If you get a job that takes all day, and ten years later it’s automated to ten minutes, you will get paid to show up all day and work for ten minutes. That would never happen in the private sector, and that’s one of the many reasons why government will always be mind-bogglingly wasteful.

                As for the rest, if our military was limited to simply defending the country instead of policing the word, it wouldn’t really matter.

                I’m going to do something productive with the rest of my day, instead of arguing with your inanity.

                1. I’ll concede that the different incentive structures for the private and public sector could lead to different outcomes in employee performance. It’s not clear that a public workforce subject to the scrutiny of legislatures is, in principle, destined to be less efficient than a private workforce subject to the scrutiny of accountants, but humans are complicated. It’s possible for government to employ people just to make sure they have food on the table, and that would be more human concern than any private company required to maximize shareholder return, so it has at least that going for it.

                  We can’t get rid of the public sector, so what’s the upshot here? Again, I’m the one who believes in voting for lawmakers who care about government working efficiently. I’m not convinced you are. I think you’re motivated to vote for lawmakers who deliberately underfund and demoralize public sector agencies.

              2. Political generals have been a bane on every professional military for forever. The US seems to have a glut of them right now. There just are not good alternatives to it.

              3. I worked as a contractor for two years at the headquarters of one of the combatant commands. While the organization did get things done, they did so in the most horribly inefficient and costly manner possible. Besides a few talented folks, the place was packed with people who were useless and incompetent.

                In the one cube farm that I worked in, you could have looked within a 10-meter radius of my desk and have found enough people to fire to save the government millions of dollars a year, without any discernible impact on operations.

                About many of the people that actually did do things, we used to joke that we could save the government millions more by offering to double their salaries if they would just stay home.

                If the place was a private company, they would have gone out of business in a couple of months.

                So yes, Tony. At the management level, military organizations are plagued by incompetence. Any boots-on-the-ground combat soldier would tell you the same thing.

            2. And they are nearly impossible to fire.

        3. The evidence is there if you want to see it. $500 million wasted by Solyndra, $100 billion trains in California that go nowhere. I could find thousands of examples of this. An ever increasing annual federal budget and a $28 TRILLION national debt.

      2. The govt could fuck up a trainwreck. We’ve all.seen their work product. Only a blind nanny statist refuses to admit that DC can’t find their ass with two hands

  18. Incentives matter, right?
    So, I have questions:
    1) What are the chances of IRS TT error in favor of tax payer?
    1.1) Given 1, what are the chances the tax payer is civilly or criminally liable?
    2) What are the chance or IRS TT error in favor of the government?
    2.1) Given 2, what are the chances that the tax payer can be made whole?

  19. Gimme. More.

  20. Paperwork required under penalty of violence folded into the shape of a dove, the symbol of peace.

    Couldn’t be more oxymoronic.

  21. Do you feel the need to defend every single existing company, or does this article exist because of a specific donation from TurboTax?

    Obviously, that’s a product that need not exist on the private market. Nobody should have to pay a private company to do something that could be done automatically by a computer. It’s a tax on top of regular taxes that goes into some CEO’s vacation house.

    What a neat trick, though. Talk about how the REAL problem is some unicorn fart fairy tale that will never happen, but until it does, let’s just keep everything status quo.

    1. People have to decipher the tax code, draft algorithms and create a user interface. You don’t just feed the rules into some scanner and out pops a computer program.

      And if the government does it, they’ll just hire the same people that wrote TurboTax, pay them twice as much to do a half-assed job, and pay for it by printing money.

      C’mon. Be realistic.

      1. What a fantastic excuse for the status quo. Keep being a radical! We need radicals. Do let me know when you advocate for actually changing anything.

        1. If by “change” you mean the ideas of one or two enlightened government officials being forced upon everyone, which we all know is the case, then please go fuck yourself.

          If by “change” you mean letting the best ideas in the private sector percolate to the top by allowing new and innovative products to compete with each other in the free market, well then yes I totally advocate for change.

          1. I’m dubious on the value of innovative products that solve a problem that need not exist if government worked more efficiently in one small way. Seems cheaper in the long term to at least attempt to make government work more efficiently in that way. But we’re never going to do that if we come to the table believing it’s impossible, are we?

            1. You can’t make government work efficiently. There’s no profit, and importantly there’s no loss. Just baseline budgets, citizens to plunder, and printing presses. Businesses work efficiently because they’ve got to make a profit. If they don’t then they go under. Government has no such incentive to be efficient. Profits are the price we pay for efficiency. Since there are no profits in government, there will be no efficiency. Ever.

              It’s foolish to dream otherwise. Facts and logic, not intentions and feelings.

              1. “Government has no incentive to be efficient.”

                Well, not from you. You’ve clearly stated that your incentive is to go on proving yourself right about how inefficient government is. Do you vote for politicians who promise to make government work inefficiently, perhaps?

                The incentives in government are provided by elections. If people care about efficiency, they can vote based on that issue. You’ll forgive us if we’re too busy dealing with bug-chasing lunatic Q-Anoners with government power to scrutinize every little thing.

                It makes sense that profit motive would motivate efficiency in some small sense, but we’re talking about an industry that exists by virtue of companies lobbying government to keep itself inefficient.

                You’re complaining about the thing you asked for!

                1. That makes no sense at all and doesn’t in any way refute my argument. You can’t snap your fingers and make government more efficient. There’s nothing to measure. There is no profit and loss statement. They literally cannot measure efficiency. There’s no way to do it. Go chase some government fairy dust. I’ve got to do laundry.

                  1. Fine, I’ll spell it out:

                    Republicans want you to believe that government is terrible at doing anything (except throwing people in cages and bombing other countries). So they underfund and demoralize government agencies, sometimes for decades on end, thus proving themselves right. It’s a cycle of impotent rage, and they use it for votes.

                    Meanwhile governments function all over the world without collapsing due to inefficiency. It can’t be all a giant ball of chaos, and you haven’t demonstrated that with anything more than one or two anecdotes. We can’t get rid of governments, so oughtn’t we try to make them work efficiently? All that could possibly be under threat for you is your entire worldview, and that’s worth less than a handful of crap, when you get down to it.

                    1. “……,underfund….”?

                      Lol. Stop, dude. Just stop. You can’t really believe that.

                    2. “…Citation needed…”

                      His IQ test is all you need.

              2. Governments departments do not show a profit. How to gauge success? The size of the budget and number of personnel. A reduction in either is a reduction in importance. Watch “Yes Minister” and the expositions of Sir Humphrey Applegate. Yes, their British but the permanent bureaucracy is similar enough. Their incentives are not the same as private enterprise.

                The government does does some things well, but not everything and not all the time.

                1. Government incentive are the opposite of the private sector. The more they spend, the better they are doing. The less efficient they are, the more they spend. The more people they employ, the more they spend. The more money they waste, the more they spend. So their incentive is to be inefficient, hire more people than necessary, and waste money.

                  And they do it well.

                2. A democratic government does things that the people want it to do. If it is malfunctioning, then we aren’t doing our job as stewards of our country.

                  I know who I think are the class dunces.

                3. “…The government does does some things well,…”


    2. Please let the government do your taxes for you.

      Please. Do it.

  22. But the real way to fix the problems with tax filing is to simplify the tax code—something that companies like Intuit are guilty of lobbying against, but something that’s well within a senator’s power to champion…But Warren would never. For one, she’s a proponent of wealth taxes,

    I agree Warren has no interest in simplifying the tax code – but simplifying it doesn’t have much to do with wealth tax. ‘Simplifying’ the tax code for purposes of changing the tax revenue stream is NOT simplifying. It is corruption.

    If you want to see a simplified tax system – with a wealth tax – in action – here is Switzerland. The confederation itself has three main tax bases – VAT, income, wealth. They simplify by consolidating tax administration with the cantons behind the scenes. An individual only files with one entity (canton or sub-canton). The cantons collect taxes. The cantons send the confederation taxes to Bern. And Bern then decides how those federal taxes get spent – most of which simply returns to the cantons in one form or another.

    1. Wanna see bullshit bafflegab in action?
      See JFree, above.

  23. Why not simplify taxes AND have an official free version AND let turbotax et al. still have their offerings. The market can then decide if the $60 for turbotax is worth it. For some it will be, for others, not as much. I don’t have a whole lot of faith in the government creating a good enough product to drive anyone else out of business, but more competition tends to promote better products.

    1. Why not simplify taxes? Because that’s how government officials are able to dole out favors. Pay into a campaign fund and get some specially tailored deduction that applies to you but not the competition. Stuff like that. That’s why the code is so indecipherable and contradictory. There’s no incentive at all to simplify the tax code. Quite the opposite.

      1. The best way imo to force simplification of the tax code is to force govt tax agencies at all levels to see what the mess looks like from the tax filers perspective.

        Legislators won’t do this. They are hopelessly corrupt and tied to those who want the whole thing complicated. The main tax bureaucrats have a conflict of interest in simplifying in that their main goal is to increase revenues.

        But I can see that an interstate compact focused entirely on tax audit, ombudsman, simplification could indeed come up with implementable ideas. And an interstate compact can only spread those ideas because they work – not by mandate.

        1. Tax agencies don’t write the tax code, legislators do.

          1. JFree is immune to logic and reality.

    2. Taxes will be simplified when we hold a convention to pass a constitutional amendment Congress would never pass: Require each Congressman and Senator to fill out his tax forms UNAIDED and BY HAND, with nothing more than a 4-function calculator. If he does not complete this correctly or resign by April 15, the nearest citizens are required to take him out and shoot him.

      It would be possible to simplify the income tax so the form for most people could fit on a postcard – but only for people with no income other than employment earnings reported on a W2, government payments such as social security and unemployment compensation, and bank interest. Or for those people, the IRS should already have all the data so it could fill out the postcard form and send it to the taxpayer to check, correct if necessary, and sign. But then our Congress (of baboons) would not have the chance to solicit bribes campaign contributions for a hundred deductions and tax credits for special interests.

      However, some of us do have unavoidably complex tax forms. I work as a consultant, so I have business income, and even without any special treatment for my particular business, separating legitimate business expenses from nondeductible expenditures is bound to be complicated. I have substantial retirement savings divided among several different kinds of investments; even the nontaxable bond mutual fund may generate reportable capital gains. It’s unlikely there are more than two members of Congress with simpler tax forms than me – and I only think there are two because Bernie and AOC are both such _idiots_ they might be living on their government salaries.

  24. She’s always seemed to be an idiot and completely dishonest. A perfect politician in other words, she’d fit in either party.

    1. She reminds me of every annoying busybody I have ever known.

  25. God she’s an idiot

  26. Simplify the tax code? Sure. Make it 75 pages instead of 75,000.

  27. I think I pay $30 for HRB deluxe on Amazon.

  28. I can think one ONLY one way where this would be a good idea…

    If the program makes an error in the taxpayer’s favor, it stands, and cannot be changed by an audit (unless the taxpayer provided incorrect information).
    If the program makes an error in the government’s favor, triple damages are awarded. There shall be no statute of limitations on this provision.

  29. “The government shouldn’t be relying on private industry to provide essential services. “

    Oh, FFS! What does Warren *really* want?

  30. What could go wrong? How about eeeeeeeeeeverything?

  31. Like does not want a simplified tax code. You cannot make criminals out of anyone you want if the tax code is simple.

  32. The tax code should be simpler, but in every other rich country, the tax authority prepares a return, you check if it’s correct which it usually is, and you send it in, with the whole process taking 15 minutes. Why are they all so much smarter than we are?
    Re why the IRS doesn’t advertise Free File, they’re not allowed to, part of the deal with all the sleazy tax prep providers.

  33. In other news, Prosecutors offices will be providing defence attorneys free of charge.

  34. This idiot is as dumb as a box of rocks. Every time she opens her pie hole she says something more stupid than the last time.

    And my apologies to boxes of rocks that are more intelligent than she is.

  35. So I work for the Tax Department of a state. We had such a program, but it was outlawed by our legislature. Oddly, they did not outlaw the automated tax filing service we provided to businesses. Honestly our program was pretty good and not that expensive (nominally it was free, of course there are development and maintenance costs, but those are pretty low since we also develop and maintain the software that processes return, sends refunds, and sends the rest to the state accounts (and a little bit to charity as designated by the filer if they have a refund)). Having said that, three things: (1) Our income tax structure is a lot simpler than the federal structure and (2) Compared to HR Block, TurboTax and others, we provided better and more accurate service cheaper (still do for business taxes), and (3) against programs like TaxSlayer maybe not so much.

  36. This is typical of leftist thinking:
    W: “TurboTax is cool. We should have something like that.”
    A: “We do. It’s called TurboTax.”
    W: “But… it’s not a government-owned thing?”
    A: “I don’t see the problem.”
    W: “Well, we can’t control it.”
    A: “Now I see a problem.”
    So, let have those government types reinvent the wheel, only one that’s square-shaped and only drives on government-approved square-wheel accepting pavement… and then require its use.
    I’m with the author here. I’d like to see the Income Tax simplified to the extent that it wouldn’t require software to file. A consumption tax instead of an income tax would simplify it even further: You don’t even file. You just pay at the point of sale, anywhere and everywhere you buy something. It’d take an Amendment and a whole lot of political will, but isn’t it past time we get these folks out of our cookie jar?

  37. I have used turbo tax for years. They have pretty much perfected the product. Not only that but if you need help you can actually talk with someone on the phone. Try that with government.

  38. FWIW, I make a point of never purchasing anything from a vendor who is giving his product away to someone else except in the rare circumstance where I have no alternative and no choice. I also think an appropriate law would be to say that no U.S. made product can be sold for less in a foreign company that it is sold for here. When somebody does it to us, we call that “dumping”.

  39. Ever call the IRS for an answer to a tax question? I have, I am a retired CFO and on more than one occasion have been given the wrong answer. In their defense, the thousands of pages of regs cannot be comprehended by a single individual. As the article points out the answer is to simplify the regs.

    1. I have always found the IRS staff helpful and fair.

      1. “I have always found the IRS staff helpful and fair.”

        Given that you’re a fucking ignoramus, that is not surprising at all.

  40. The problem I have with tax preparer and tax software is that it hides the complexity of the tax code from most people. People are lead to think the tax code is straight forward because they only answer the questions the tax software asks them. If people had to sit down with the form and work through the instructions they would better understand that the tax code is far too complicated. I sit down every year with the forms, a calculator and a pencil to do my taxes. Most times it easy because most years are similar to past years, but every year you get to see the changes.

    I would however like to be able to e-file my forms and directly pay the IRS. Mailing a dozen forms and a check is a pain in the backside.

  41. Yessssssssss, the agency that is, famously, not responsible for the accuracy of any tax advice it gives should be making tax preparation software.

    And they should be doing it for the benefit of low-income people – even though 99% of them are fine with a 1040EZ and if you make up into 30k/yr ITS FUCKING PROVIDED FREE BY EXISTING ‘for profit’ tax software companies.

    Elizibeth Warren is so out of touch that she, like Kamala Harris, is concerned about rural American’s lack of access to photocopier technology.

    1. The “for free” firms remove access after October. It’s simply a hook to get you to buy their software. Like a rebate they’re hoping you never turn in.

      1040EZ should be an online, fillable form, where the government fills in what it asserts, and you fill in the rest.

  42. What is the smell test to determine if an idea is a bad one? I submit the qualifying element of determination of a bad idea is anything that originates with this woman.

  43. “… publicly funded free system …”

    This is not a phrase ever used by libertarians. Try “a system funded by theft,” “extortionate system” or the classic: “tyranny.”

    1. Regardless, not the lie “free”.

  44. Good for Liz. This is such an obvious move. We have to scurry about collecting the data and making the calculations that the government already has and will ding us for if we get wrong.

    Let the government fill in what they know, and we can take it from there with deductions and any extra income. We can dispute issues, or at least see what they think, *before* we file.

    *Not* having an electronic government form available is just crony capitalism for tax software firms.

  45. All answers are MONEY

  46. money money money and moner for the answers. View detail: kubet

  47. Agreed that the solution is tax simplification, not simply making the toil semi-tolerable. What will happen, however, is that folks like Warren will continue to tweak the tax system, supposedly going after revenue, but also including loop-holes that allow them and folks with the lobbying chops to influence them to keep their wealth. Other folks with smart tax filers will notice those loop-holes and take advantage of them too. The result may even be reduced revenue.

    1. When the top tax rate was (post WWII) 97%, no one paid that, simply no one.
      Haven’t checked the most recent tax rates/income. but those now hitting the max rate will automatically re-direct some of what might be taxes to hiring those who can help them legally avoid the higher rates.
      Tony (above) as a fucking lefty ignoramus might actually pay the rate he lands in, but that might be a very low rate (hard to imagine any employer rewarding his level of stupidity very highly), or as a steaming pile of lefty shit, he may well be lying.

  48. “Alternatively, Congress could simplify the US tax code so that 90% of taxpayers would not need complicated, expensive software tk figure out how much they owe—nahhhh!”
    Theodoric of York, medieval accountant.

  49. A simplified tax code would be better but many of the suggestions on here won’t work without a complete overhaul of not just the system but society’s understanding and interaction with the system. I prepare taxes. So many people have such a hard time understanding that at a certain income level it is just their own money they are getting back. Another group does everything they can to make sure they max out the government handouts that are written into the tax code. Get the max EIC is an artform. The rise of companies paying with 1099-NECs that then allow the taxpayer to determine what they can legally call business expenses since a 1099-NEC technically qualifies them as being self-employed ads another layer of complication especially if this then counts as income for EIC.
    It isn’t as simple as the government already knows everything when dependents and marital status are thrown into the mix. The ACA with the Premimum Tax credits on returns, Child Tax credits and stimuluses throughout the year from the IRS are getting us more dependedant on the crazy complicated system then ever before. We will never get out of the system if we continue to use it as the means for handouts to the poor.

    1. Thank you for your insight on taxation. I will, DEFINITELY, take note of this.

  50. “….. power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Lord
    John Dalberg-Acton.

  51. There is an extremely simple change which would promptly align the size and reach of the government with the available revenue: Abolish witholding, and send out a form a month in advance to calculate the amount you owe (regardless of its complexity) and an invoice for that amount, payment due April 15th.
    Problem solved.

    1. The Federal government would rather take everything you earn every paycheck and send you a small check back on April 15th for you to live on for the next year.

  52. The Government should be forbidden to create a tax software as it is a conflict of interest of the highest magnitude. First the incentive of the government would be to maximize taxes paid and not to minimize what is paid. I would go back to filling out paper forms rather than use any tax software that the government creates.

    Additionally instead of the $60.00 that TurboTax charges the government would offer it free but in reality it would cost $600.00 or more in reality. Of course that would be fine because everyone would end up paying more because the government software would maximize what we pay in taxes and therefore we would pay for the cost overruns.

    Elizabeth Warren is unsuited to hold any elected office as demonstrated by the sheer volume of harebrained ideas se espouses.

  53. Good on Intuit for pulling out. Tax filing is a mess. They can answer questions about how to use their software, but that’s not what most people asked. They asked for tax advice, which Intuit can’t provide.

    Everyone in the finance industry has to be careful about what they say because you have to be accredited to provide any kind of subjective information or advice.

    Tax laws will never be simplified because that requires a non-abusive form of government where government views itself as the enemy. Tax rules are left intentionally vague on purpose to allow the IRS regulatory leeway to settle complex matters in their favor.

    As a matter of principle, it isn’t a bad idea for the IRS to provide guidance on how to follow its own rules, but that is completely blind to the reality of what the IRS really is. The IRS should most likely be abolished at this point. I don’t think they can fundamentally fulfill their mission given how corrupted taxation has become.

  54. What idiot would use the government to fill out their tax returns? Pennywise pound foolish.

  55. Warren is spouting odd thoughts again, and she has obviously failed to research tax preparation services including Turbo Tax. Lots of tax preparation services are free is you have less than $50K of regular income and no investments other than bank account interest payments. Over that, everyone pays for the service.

  56. Sen. Warren may be correct in letting the IRS provide optional software and disclose the data it has on your family income. The key word is optional.

    Asfor a wealth tax, she has it backwards. The government should tax wealth and income inversely and all taxpayers should have the same election. Anyone who is willing to pay the top wealth tax rate of 2% should pay the lowest income and payroll tax rates. The poor would love it, particularly with a $500,000 per person wealth tax exemption. Those who want to pay a lower wealth tax rate should pay the highest income tax rates. [I honestly don’t know what Sen. Warren might have in mind.]

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