Doing Your Taxes by Hand or by Computer?

February 23, 2006

This time of year, many taxpayers are weighing the decision on whether to purchase a tax preparation software program, like TurboTax, or to do their taxes the old fashioned way with a calculator, pen, and lots of coffee. So for those still on the fence on this decision, you should know that a new IRS study says that doing it by hand may save more time after all. From the Arizona Republic:

Using a computer program to figure income taxes takes longer than doing it by hand, the IRS claims, infuriating the tax-preparation software industry.

The accounting profession also is protesting the agency’s estimates of the costs of having a professional calculate various types of returns.

The outcries are in response to what the Internal Revenue Service introduced in its latest tax instruction booklets as a new, “more accurate” method of estimating the time and cost of filing.

The figures are based on a survey of 15,000 taxpayers and 400 tax professionals, IRS spokesman Raphael Turino said.

It is no surprise that the various industries that only exists because of the complexity of the tax code would come out bashing this study. And it’s no surprise that these same groups have also helped lead the fight against fundamental tax reform.

With true tax reform, the need for computer programs and tax accountants to calculate everyone’s taxes would be reduced dramatically. And although that would lead to some temporary unemployment in certain professions, that is no reason why we should oppose tax reform, which would benefit every American taxpayer in its simplicity. Just because some doctor may became unemployed because some medicine emerges that cures the disease in which he specializes does not mean that we should stop that cure from being available. The same principle applies to fixing the tax code.


Related Articles