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There’s a Tax Season Villain, and It’s Not the I.R.S. | NYT Opinion (The New York Times)

Money is a commodity accepted by general consent as a medium of economic exchange. It is the medium in which prices and values are expressed. It circulates from person to person and country to country, facilitating trade, and it is the principal measure of wealth.

The Complex World of Tax Filing: A Comparison of Systems

Taxes are an unavoidable part of life in most countries around the world. How governments collect taxes, however, can vary significantly. In some countries, like the Netherlands, Japan, and New Zealand, the process is relatively straightforward and user-friendly, with the government providing free internet portals for citizens to file their taxes quickly and easily. On the other hand, in the United States, tax filing is often seen as complicated, expensive, and stressful, with taxpayers frequently relying on private companies like Intuit TurboTax for assistance, at a significant cost.

The Current Landscape in the United States

In the United States, filing taxes has become a complex and expensive process for many individuals. According to a report by ProPublica, taxpayers in the US spend billions of dollars collectively each year on tax preparation services, with a significant portion of this money going to private companies like Intuit TurboTax. These companies have dominated the tax preparation industry in the US, using various tactics to push taxpayers towards paid services and away from free filing options.

Attempts at Reform

Efforts to simplify the tax filing process in the US have been ongoing for decades. In 1987, Ronald Reagan proposed a return-free system, which would have eliminated the need for most Americans to fill out tax returns. However, this proposal was never fully implemented, and subsequent administrations have struggled to make progress on this issue.

The Role of Intuit TurboTax

Intuit TurboTax has played a significant role in shaping the tax filing landscape in the US. The company has lobbied aggressively against government efforts to create a free filing portal, instead preferring to offer paid services to taxpayers. Despite promises from presidents and administrations, including George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden, Intuit and other tax-prep companies have continued to resist efforts to create a free government-run tax filing service.

The Future of Tax Filing in the US

Despite the challenges, there is hope for reform. The Biden administration has funded a pilot program for the IRS to create a portal for free tax filing, which is set to launch as a small pilot for the 2024 tax season. However, this program is already facing opposition from House Republicans, who are pushing to cut funding for the IRS, including the money for the pilot program.


The issue of tax filing in the United States is a complex one, with many factors contributing to the current state of affairs. While efforts have been made to simplify the process and provide a free filing option for taxpayers, resistance from tax-prep companies and political challenges have hindered progress. However, with continued advocacy and support from the public, there is hope that meaningful reform can be achieved, making the tax filing process fairer and more accessible for all Americans.

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