Another Year's Tax-Prep Torture Nears An End
Be honest: How many of you are a little bleary-eyed this morning because you stayed up late to finish doing your taxes?
Yeah, me too. Even though I already did my taxes not just once but twice, as part of last month's review of tax-prep software from H&R Block and Intuit, I didn't actually file my taxes at that time. My wife and I owe the Feds a little money, and I didn't feel like handing that over sooner than required. I also wanted to take a little time, outside of deadline pressure, to go over my returns.
(Some readers have asked if I ever learned why these two tax-prep apps couldn't yield the same total after processing just our W-2s. But after repeating the exercise from scratch, I still don't know. Since TaxCut doesn't show its work until you're finished with the whole return, at which point nobody can untangle the math, I can only guess that it factors in some allowances or exemptions later in the game than TurboTax. I hope that -- contrary to the suggestion of one Intuit publicist -- there isn't leeway for interpretation on such basic math.)
Anyway, you can guess what happened after my review ran: I didn't even look at the forms again until last week. So that means I'll be among the hordes jamming the e-file servers today. Will you? Tell me how things go in the comments -- especially if you're using the Internal Revenue Service's new "Free File Fillable Forms" option.
When you're done, you might also want to set aside a few minutes to read a short report (PDF) about tax-prep software from the Government Accountability Office. The GAO's research, as my colleague Cecilia Kang reported on Saturday, reveals some interesting details about the state of electronic tax preparation and filing. To wit:
* The IRS's figures show that "processing an electronically filed return costs the agency $0.35 per return while processing a paper return costs $2.87 per return."
* The service "does not have plans to review tax software to see if the guidance it provides to taxpayers is sufficient in helping them prepare accurate returns, in part because IRS relies on the extensive scenario and other testing done by the industry."
* Remember when Intuit's servers got swamped by all the returns filed electronically in 2007? The IRS found that "about 171,000 tax returns were affected" by the outage.
* The IRS has some fairly detailed guidance about security for tax-prep providers but did not plan to verify that e-file providers adhered to its "advisory security and privacy standards for the 2009 filing season."
As Kang reported, the IRS plans to address some of these items, starting with the security issues noted by the GAO. That's a good idea, but not nearly as good as simplifying this abomination of a tax code. Mr. President, you say you want to do that -- let's get on with the job.
Posted by: tbva | April 15, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rrgeek | April 15, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Arlington4 | April 15, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: binxboll | April 15, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: wiredog | April 16, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: robpegoraro | April 16, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: seller11 | April 16, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: beagun27 | April 17, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: alsnow1 | April 20, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.