Republicans have long been obsessed with the dumb promise of letting people file taxes on a postcard, an idea that has no policy merits whatsoever and is also totally unrealistic.
However, rather than admit that this was a silly thing to have run around the country saying, or just quietly drop it, the Trump White House got the Treasury Department to redesign form 1040 so that they can say it fits on a double-sided postcard. Except to shrink the three-page form down to a double-sided postcard, they end up needing to ask Americans to use six supplementary schedules and a few extra forms.
Here’s the front, which, obviously, contains detailed identifying information that people probably wouldn’t actually want on a postcard anyway. (And, of course, you need an envelope for the check):
Here’s the back, which, as I’ve been saying all along, achieves simplicity simply by outsourcing the work to other forms.
It’s important to recall that all of this is completely pointless. The government could — and many foreign governments do — make tax filing completely painless for 95 percent of taxpayers by simply taking the information that’s already been filed by employers and banks and filling the tax form out for you.
People with unusual tax situations might still need to do work on their own, and everyone would want to retain the right to check the government’s work and protest that the IRS made an error. But automatic filing exists in many places and could exist here, too, except for the efforts of the professional tax preparation lobby.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), all have bills that would more or less fix this problem. But until that happens, at least we’ll have our double-sided postcard with six extra forms.