iFile works great, so naturally Virginia is killing it
By Stuart Kelly
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.
| April 24, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Virginia, taxes
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