My Tax Time Pet Peeve

Well, tax time itself is a pet peeve for most of us, but here’s my specific gripe.

I use PC software to prepare my tax returns. A couple of years ago, I tried the e-file thing… $20 and I don’t have to hassle with printing and mailing the forms and the return comes sooner. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience. After spending the twenty bucks and submitting my information, I got an email back saying that my submission wasn’t accepted. Supposedly I had already e-filed and the IRS saw my submission as a duplicate and rejected it. Excuse me? I hadn’t already filed my taxes. But, complain as I did, it was to no avail. What really frustrated me was when I went back to the software company (I won’t tell you it was TurboTax) to get a refund of the $20 filing fee. “I’m sorry sir, but it wasn’t our mistake so you don’t get your money back.” That was the last time I e-filed… until last night.

The only reason I chose to e-file this year was because we’re getting back money from our blessed government, it was going to get my refund to me quicker, and it wasn’t going to cost me anything… for the federal return. The state return was still going to cost me $20, but that was a $10 savings from the “regular” cost. Wowee! And that brings me to my pet peeve.

E-filing was supposed to accomplish a bunch of things. 1) I assume the Paperwork Reduction Act (which no one has ever really explained accurately to me) is some savings thing for the government. 2) By e-filing, I’m saving some poor data entry clerk from having to enter my tax returns into the government’s big ol’ computer systems, thus saving the government more money. 3) By e-filing, my tax return is getting into the government’s big ol’ computers more accurately, so that the aforesaid data entry clerk’s supervisor doesn’t have to spend a lot of time reviewing the clerk’s accuracy, thus saving the government more money. You get my drift?

With all these benefits to the government, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO E-FILE? The government ought to PAY ME to e-file! It’s not like I’m doing this tax thing because I like it. It’s not fun. Where’s the incentive for me to file my taxes, short of staying out of jail for not doing something that some will argue the government isn’t allowed to do in the first place? Ah, yes… the topic of whether or not the federal government has the right to levy an income tax on me at all. That’s another story for another day.

Happy Tax Day, everyone.

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