April 16, 2012

Filing Taxes Is Easy When Your Government Isn’t Bought By Intuit

The Republic Report’s story on how Intuit lobbies to make filing taxes annoying has sparked a fascinating conversation on Reddit.  We still haven’t heard from the White House on why they haven’t implemented their campaign promise to make pre-filed tax forms a reality, but we did hear just how easy it is to file in other countries where Intuit doesn’t control their tax filing process with $9M of lobbying money.

Here’s Australia (the government has a demo).

You go and download a program from the tax office web site (which has all the tax changes for that year). You run it, stick in your TFN (Tax file number – equivalent of SSN) and go for it.

You can select to download any data they have on you (from employer payments, bank interest etc.) and it does its magic.

You can also add deductions and other stuff, and when you’re done, you click submit, and in a couple of weeks, you have a transfer to you bank account with your return.

It has never taken me more than 20 mins to do my taxes. And I never spent a cent on software to do it.


That sounds like work. In Norway I get a letter in the mail detailing my income, how much income tax I paid over the last year, and if I owe, or are owed, anything. If I do not disagree with the government estimate I can do nothing and it just goes through on default. If I am owed anything I get that transferred to my account in June. The additional documentation and papers that come with the tax forms are for any alternations you feel should be made.

I know a lot of different people that tend towards paying more taxes than they need. First it avoids getting a potentially massive bill in the mail at the beginning of the year, and it gives them a nice additional payment at the start of summer.


In Finland that is approximately what we get.

Except for the following things:

January 1st is actually early April.

Instead of a cheque I get a direct deposit to my bank account.

If there are any changes, I can file them online and send any needed receipts and other paperwork later.

Most deductions are given automatically. So that most people just have to check the summary. No other action is necessary for about 70% of tax payers.

And Sweden.

That’s basically how it works in Sweden (although you don’t get a check with your tax forms, instead you approve it (which you can do through SMS or on the net) and then they transfer the money directly to your bank account). Your forms don’t add upp? Fix it on the net also!

Want this?  Someone set up a petition on White House.gov asking for them to implement their campaign promise.  Go sign up.