Hooray, the IRS will spend $15 million to think about making free e-filing

Doing the absolute least.

This Feb. 22, 2018 photo shows a display of TurboTax software in a Sam's Club in Pittsburgh. The com...
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Originally Published: 

The fact that we have to pay to file our taxes when the government already knows all of the relevant information is a profit-motivated scam maintained by tax prep companies. We could be filing our taxes for free, if only the feds just gave us the option.

The good news is that the Internal Revenue Service is looking into it. The bad news is that they’re just looking into it, and not actually doing it. The agency announced that it will spend $15 million of the money set aside as part of the Inflation Reduction Act to “study” a free, government-offered tax filing system that would replace the mess of faux “free” alternatives that are currently available.

This is incredibly on-brand for a number of reasons. First, creating a real free file system has been an initiative Democrats have backed for years, and despite passing the Inflation Reduction Act that is making this study possible, this is about par for the course for them to now drag their feet and “study” every conceivable angle before acting, instead of actually just doing the damn thing.

And then there’s the IRS, which briefly became the bogeyman for conservatives who claimed that the Biden administration was hiring thousands of armed agents to come knock down doors and take money from everyday Americans by force. The agency of jack-booted thugs who operate outside of the rule of law suddenly needs to study if it should build a website, apparently.

Look, any step toward a free file system is an improvement. The current system of “free” filing farms out the task to tax prep giants like Intuit TurboTax and H&R Block, which offer extremely narrow parameters and income caps for who can actually use their free products. Most people end up shuffled into a paid service that doesn’t even tell them what they owe until it’s time to hit “Submit.”

But let’s be real: That’s the study. Year after year, Americans are getting screwed out of their own money by companies the government pays to build garbage tax filing tools. We’ve been the guinea pigs for that experiment, and we know how well it has worked. Some advice for the IRS: Skip the study and put that $15 million in the pocket of a developer who can build a decent app, already.