Personally, I'd rather they took bids and hired a company to write the software.
Quite plainly, I don't. Monopolies, even government regulated ones [...]
How is this a monopoly?
Whatever company won the bid would then have a monopoly on writing the software, and a de facto monopoly on maintaining it.
As long as this company isn't guaranteed the rights to all future IRS jobs they'll have the motivation to do a good job this time.
Please... The cost to the IRS to switch software companies after the software is already created is way too high for it to be a reasonable solution in all but the most extreme cases.
You say "exlcusive government contracts" and I guess that's the issue. I think you should contract out for specific things independently. I don't see how winning a specific contract warrants the term "exclusive".
It's not going to make sense to contract out different parts of the software independently. That's just going to create more work for everyone. You also can't reasonably contract out the maintenance of the software separate from the creation of it. Again, that would create way more work for everyone. Are you starting to see why the private sector is so much more efficient?
But, we're not. We're forced to deal with the IRS, so all pretense of free market goes out the window.
Sure, but you're not forced to e-file. In fact, unless you're getting a refund there's no advantage to e-filing. And you're not forced to overpay in the first place.
When required though, I can keep filling out paper which is much slower and essentially costs me money, or go to an e-file company. But that company doesn't provide tax services, they simple offer to send my numbers on to the government for a fee.
How is paper slower? TaxACT is free. Are you complaining because you don't have a printer? Or are you complaining about the extra 30 seconds it takes to print the form out? Ultimately there are going to have to be requirements for any electronic system, as well. You'll need a modem, or internet access, or whatever.
No, they offer to convert those numbers into a form which can be read by the IRS mainframes. If that's nothing, why don't you do it yourself?
I'm willing to pay for transmission costs, but I want to be able to send information from me to someone else, without an intermediary having to perform *unneeded* processing on it.
You do all the processing then, and I'll gladly transmit your return free of charge.
Paper takes a lot longer to fill out and is more error prone than even a simple form.
Considering that TaxACT is free, I disagree.
The government also saves by not reading my handwriting and typing it in.
They also lose money by being forced to return refunds faster. But ultimately that's the million dollar question. If hiring people to make and maintain web pages saves more money then it costs, then it should be done. But I don't think it will. If you agree that the only question is whether or not money will be saved, I'd be glad to look up and talk about numbers, but I don't think this is the case.
It's not worth my taking my already calculated tax data and punching it into a tax package, just to e-file.
I don't understand what you want then.
You mention this being a service for the upper and middle classes... I don't think it has to be. Certainly, skid-row bums aren't going to use it, but even poor people usually live in neighborhoods with a library and libraries often have computers.
Sure, but poor people can already e-file for free, either online or through one of the organizations that was set up for that purpose.
But how many paper filers have internet access and would switch only if the government instituted this?
I would. [...] How many other people would now? Less than in five years, but a system like this won't happen overnights.
In five years we'll have open source processing software, and it probably won't cost any more than a stamp to file using it.
But even beyond that, I don't think the numbers would justify it. It would only effect current paper filers, and presumably would only save significant money for non 1040-EZ filers. And it's only likely to cause those who can't already e-file for free to switch. Those without internet access likely wouldn't use it, and those not getting a refund likely wouldn't use it. Who's left? Well, you are, but the government certainly shouldn't create a website just for you.
I think a more successful strategy would be to offer a kickback to the transmitter. Then you'd likely see even more opportunities for free e-file emerge.
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