Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.



For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.







Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!






E-mail us here.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 24, 2007 9:56 AM. The previous post in this blog was New OHSU malpractice cap: $500K? $875K?. The next post in this blog is By the numbers. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Archives

Links

Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
TaxVox
Tax.com
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Conglomerate
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
myCorporateResource.com
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
HinesSight
Onfocus
Jalpuna
Beerdrinker.org
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
Sansego
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
Mireio
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Althouse
GirlHacker
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Frytopia
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
StumptownBlogger
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and Drink.com
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion
LoveSalem

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Misterblue
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
Twisty
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
Pinktalk
Mellow-Drama
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Rosenblog
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Blort
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Maukie
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
KGW-TV
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
KOIN
Willamette Week
KATU
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB
Topix.net - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
KPTV
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

Music-Related
The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Seal
Sting
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jackie Edwards takes on TurboTax

The process by which we Americans figure out our federal taxes is ridiculous. So many tens of millions, maybe even hundreds of millions, of hours spent struggling with those 1040 forms. Maybe a billion dollars in fees paid to tax return preparers and makers of tax software.

And for so many taxpayers, it's an absurd waste of time. The government already has all the information it needs -- from employers, mortgage companies, state governments, and banks -- to have the perfect picture of tens of millions of people's tax situations. Those people struggle to fill out their return forms, but in the end they don't tell the Internal Revenue Service anything that the IRS doesn' t already know.

John Edwards, the best candidate currently running for President, wants to change that. He thinks the IRS ought to prepare a draft tax return for you every year, at least if you're a person whose taxes have historically been relatively simple. If, let's say, all you ever show on your tax return is wage income, bank interest, a personal exemption for yourself, and a standard deduction, Edwards thinks the government should routinely prepare your tax return and send it to you. I would bet that in the case of 30 or 40 percent of taxpayers, the return so prepared would be completely correct. In that case, the taxpayer could just sign it, and send it back. Everyone else could throw away the IRS's version and do it themselves, the way they do now.

It's an idea that ought to be tried. California is already running such a system on a limited scale. But strong forces are trying to derail this movement -- H&R Block and Intuit, the maker of TurboTax software, are spending zillions trying to stop it.

It seems clear that we're at least a decade away, if not a century, from a truly simple tax system in this country. For many people, the process of filing an income tax return will never be easy or cheap. But for the untold tens of millions for whom it's a lot of hassle just to tell the government what it already knows, Edwards's idea is a sound one.

TurboTax can withstand the hit to its income, which would take years to kick in fully if the IRS started today to take on such a project. This year, Intuit's reporting a 5 percent annual increase in sales of its TurboTax products. Figures released last week show that they sold nearly 13 million copies of their software, either for desktop use or on the web, this tax season. If that number declined to 8 or 10 million, no one would die.

Little America shouldn't need H&R Block or TurboTax; leave it to a populist like Edwards to make that clear. Good for him, and for his idea.

Comments (23)

Five posts before 10:30AM? I can tell the kids are in school and Mr Bodanski has the day off. (so to speak)

I think California ended that program, despite generally good reviews. The coalescence of anti-tax forces who like that taxes are an administrative burden coupled with the special interests you name combine to shaft the public. Maybe Oregon can succeed where California failed?

Well, I'll be damned. Just checked your link and I see that the early reports of the programs demise (and my earlier post) were in error.

I am all for simplicity-like a flat tax where we all pay the same low percentage except for those under a certain wage level....and NO EXCEPTIONS NO LOOPHOLES....and with those no exceptions or loopholes the very rich would actually pay their fair share....whaddya think?

Got word from Turbotax that they're refunding our fees we paid as one of the people who couldn't get through the overwhelmed servers --or whatever-- on tax day. I almost feel badly (well, almost) but we shouldn't have been filing at the last minute anyway, right?

At least there's one new tradition in the Dufay household: my wife does the taxes. Hey, she took accounting, I only majored in Public Finance...and we all know where THAT leads.

Actually, the other tradition I'll miss is having a bottle of wine while I filled out the returns. You start to get really creative by the end. (Hey, just kidding IRS!)

Now, the point: The Edwards idea is great. In fact, for people who didn't file their Personal Income Tax in Multnomah Country those last three years (it WASN'T due this year...don't panic) the folks who do this stuff (I don't) calculate the tax owed based on whatever info they have, and people have a right to challenge that. Seemed to work well.

Five posts before 10:30AM?

My blogging software allows me to write entries in advance, and post them from time to time on a schedule during the day, even when I'm not at my computer. I had that feature going today.

for people who didn't file their Personal Income Tax in Multnomah Country those last three years (it WASN'T due this year...don't panic) the folks who do this stuff (I don't) calculate the tax owed based on whatever info they have, and people have a right to challenge that.

The IRS also does this. If you don't file a return, often they'll prepare one for you, and send you a bill. Ina way, Edwards would be expanding this practice to law-abiding folk.

NO EXCEPTIONS NO LOOPHOLES

It sounds like what you are proposing is a tax on gross receipts. They have this in some places -- Washington State has a "business and occupations tax," for example -- but it doesn't come across as particularly fair. Businesses that handle a lot of cash but lose money pay more taxes than those who handle a little cash and get to pocket it all.

To be fairer, most places tax net income. But that means there are deductions, and that's where the fun starts.

This sounds to me like another scheme to have the government "take care of us cradle to grave." I'd just as soon let the free market place work it's way out and take care of my own taxes thank you!

Speaking of exceptions and loopholes... I used TurboTax to do my daughter's (relatively) easy federal and state tax returns. The "adjustments to income" section for the feds was pretty short. Oregon's, on the other hand, was at least 6 or 7 pages - with like, 5 or 6 questions each. Each of the questions determined whether you qualified for some state adjustment or another. There were some doozies.

Anyway, once again, I think Edwards has suggested a sensible, fairly easy way to make things better for the average Joe. Which is something even a lot of Dems don't seem too concerned with. I think he's the best candidate so far too. 99% of the critiques against him are lame, IMO: he's too pretty, he's too rich (to be a populist), his wife is sick.

I don't believe limited experience in politics is necessarily a drawback. Especially when we see what experience has brought lately.

"loopholes the very rich would actually pay their fair share"

Please expand.

Jack, I can see where a flat tax would be a hassle for businesses, but for the regular taxpayers, it would be easy. And no way to get out of it. You write down what your income for the year was, take 25% (or whatever it is), and you write a check for that amount. Done. No deductions, no loopholes.

Seems simple to me.

I agree with the flat tax for individuals, as kathe w. and Jon mentioned. I'm on the fence about the no deductions though, as they seem like good incentives for people to act in ways they normally wouldn't, such as buying a hybrid vehicle.

no way to get out of it.

Are you kidding? For people who work for cash -- drug dealers, food service workers, cab drivers, valets, housecleaners, nannies, gardeners, etc. -- they could cheat just as they do now, by not declaring what they make.

There's a lot more to avoiding taxes than just overstating deductions.

As for one tax rate for all income, many poor people would not like the results.

I agree Jack, I see that as a problem too. What do you believe would be a good solution to that? What do you think of the fair tax?

I think we need a combination of a national consumption-based tax, like the value-added tax so prevalent in other countries, coupled with a simple income tax that hits only those households who make, say, $150,000 or more. As I blogged about here in 2005, Prof. Michael Graetz at Yale has got it mostly right.

Oh if personal income was none of the government's business,,,,,,,

What a wonderful country this would be.

"loopholes the very rich would actually pay their fair share"

Please expand.

that means the very rich would actually pay taxes as they would have no deductions. A family of four having an income of less than $30,000 per year would have no taxable income. Period the end.

Kathe, you appear half-armed, so I'll back off.

Hmm. It seems like I heard something about this on NPR fairly recently...

I think it's a great idea. The government already has all the information for those of us with simple returns, so why not?

FRANK DUFAY:

I was also delayed for 48 hours due to Intuit's processing choke point. But they didn't offer to comp my TurboTax e-filing fees.

Did you complain to them, or just receive an email?

There is a reason we have the tax system we have...It didn't just "happen" as some would imply. There are many who profit from complicated and convoluted tax laws and that's why we have what we have.
The best way to get rid of a tax is to enforce it uniformly. Meaning everybody pays the same rate and there's no redefining income. Right now we have the middle (working) class paying a higher percentage of what they make to subsidize both the very poor and the very rich. The very poor don't make much but they don't pay much yet get tax subsidies from the middle class. The rich make a lot but pay little in taxes relative to what they make and also get subsidies from the working class. Socialism at its' best.

Wow, I thought I paid my fair share. I paid out 33% of my income to the IRS and 9% of it to Oregon. Sorry, there are not as many loopholes as you all think. In taking advantages of the loopholes, I was subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax which causes those of us who have large incomes to pay our fair share. Gee, I thought over $100,000 in taxes was pretty unfair. Let me see some of you complainers hand over 40% percent of your income and then tell me I get too many breaks.That percentage didn't include the 7.65% that was held out of my wages for Social Security.

FAIRTAX.ORG

I'm all about this.

Erik- sorry- I am a bit puzzled. What does half-armed mean?


Sponsors


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend
Familia Bianchi, Malbec 2009
Terrapin Cellars, Pinot Gris 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2009
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Termpranillo 2010
Ravenswood, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Quinta das Amoras, Vinho Tinto 2010
Waterbrook, Reserve Merlot 2009
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills, Pinot Grigio 2011
Tarantas, Rose
Chateau Lajarre, Bordeaux 2009
La Vielle Ferme, Rose 2011
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio 2011
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir 2009

The Occasional Book

Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 280
At this date last year: 129
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


Clicky Web Analytics