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Tax Day doesn’t have to be this horrible

Tax Day doesn't have to suck this much. At least not for most people. The Internal Revenue Service knows what you make. They know if you typically take the standard deduction. For a lot of Americans, they could just fill their their taxes out for them.

Having the IRS auto-prepare American's taxes would save billions of dollars in tax preparation fees and hundreds of millions of hours in time spent filling out tax forms. Politicians ranging from President Obama to Ronald Reagan have supported this tax change — but there are some very rich companies and some very powerful activists standing in its way.

For much more on this subject, ProPublica's investigation of Intuit's lobbying against automatic tax filing is the best look at why a policy with so much bipartisan support for so long can't seem to pass Congress; the Sunlight Foundation has even more lobbying numbers here. Wonks will want to spend some time with economist Austan Goolsbee's white paper on how automatic filing could work in practice. And you can read Intuit's case against California's ReadyReturn system here.


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