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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 04/24/2010

iFile works great, so naturally Virginia is killing it

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Stuart Kelly
Centreville

For most Virginians, state income taxes are water under the bridge by the end of April. The prior year’s taxes have been siphoned away so gradually that one has little sense that the sums ever really existed. Filing is just a final accounting.

However, our legislators have decided to make the process a little more real next year for 300,000 or so taxpayers by eliminating iFile, Virginia’s online income-tax filing service.

I started using the service three years ago; it was straightforward and convenient. After struggling through federal forms, I found iFile to be almost a pleasure.

Proponents of eliminating iFile told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that it’s not a core government function. How is revenue collection not a core government function? And making the process less onerous should be central to that function.

Under the new law, for-profit companies handle electronic filing, though those with less than $57,000 in federal adjusted gross income can still e-file free.

The law’s backers say Virginia will save some $50,000 annually by eliminating iFile, though others have estimated that processing the additional paper filings from those not interested in paying to file online will cost Virginia $90,000. Go figure.

Opponents say that legislators were swayed by tax software purveyors and their more than $100,000 in campaign contributions over the decade that iFile operated.

Our lawmakers are saying to you middle-income-and-above earners that you can either pay another service fee or return to the cheerless era of paper filing.

It was nice to engage with the state in a way that made my life a little easier, but I guess those days are gone. Telecommunications and software expenses are eating my lunch as it is. I’m heading back to the cave and will take a tree and my home state with me. Next year, I file hard copy again.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | April 24, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, taxes  
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Comments

Looks like the government is taking over taxation in Virginia. One more reason to stay out of that state.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 24, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Would it be fair for a non-American to comment that this report (along with others) seems to indicate much of the US behaves like a corrupt third-world country when it comes to the power of lobbying money and campaign contributions (aka bribery at a remove)to affect governmental decisions.

Posted by: JohnSutton1 | April 25, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Stuart, I agree with you 100%! Anyone who thinks this wasn't done at the behest of tax software companies who have given thousands to campaigns is fooling themselves. Intuit has paid off Speaker Howell and Governor McDonnell.

Posted by: tmarshallva | April 25, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

When they claim it will save money by eliminating it, did they figure in how much it costs to process a paper return and how many mistakes are made ? I always thought that I-filing saved money. Sounds like big business wins again.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | April 26, 2010 5:20 AM | Report abuse

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