Why not let the IRS do our taxes for us?
Liberal wunderkind Ezra Klein (formerly of the Washington Post and now of Vox.com) was pushing this new idea a few weeks ago.
Well it wasn’t really new. He’s been pushing it for years.
The idea is to let the IRS, which already has your income and other tax information reported to it, prepare your taxes for you. Klein promotes that it will save billions of dollars and millions of man-hours and “make the IRS your friend.” I mean who really likes doing their own taxes?
But it’s one of the absolute worst ideas I’ve ever heard.
First of all, at no time in American history has trust for the IRS been lower (except maybe the end of the Nixon years). The IRS has targeted Americans for their beliefs; it has illegally disclosed donor information; and it’s taken more than three years in some cases to give a simple yes or no to conservative groups on their tax-exempt status.
Quite simply, it can’t be trusted. It is an agency maligned with systemic failures and unconscionable taxpayer waste, and we want to give it the ability to do our own taxes for us?
Even as scary as this thought is, it’s not even close to why this idea is so asinine.
It’s a simple matter of economics, human incentive.
Think about it. Who has the most incentive to have you pay the most to the federal government? The IRS.
In fact, for the IRS it’s not even an incentive to have you pay, for the most part it’s an incentive to keep the money you’ve already overpaid, money already withheld and delivered to the IRS by your employer.
Conversely, who has the most incentive for you to keep more of your own money? You do. And anyone you are willing to pay a small sum to help you keep your own money (i.e. tax preparers) has the same incentive.
The reality is that in the complexity of our tax laws there are ways to legally file your taxes to give more money to the federal government or to keep more money for yourself – numerous credits and deductions that you rightly deserve but that the IRS might not take the effort to find.
It’s like saying that no one likes the hassle of buying a house, so why not let the seller’s realtor handle it for you?
Who has your best interest at heart? It’s not even a close question.
So before we turn over our tax perpetration to the most abusive and intrusive agency of the federal government (and there is already legislation in Congress seeking to do just that), let’s use just a little common sense.
Then again, for a big government liberal like Klein, giving the government more access and incentive to your hard earned money is the entire point.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.