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Why filing your taxes won’t get easier anytime soon
First Published Feb 06 2014 12:58 pm • Last Updated Feb 06 2014 12:58 pm

Imagine getting a form from the IRS telling you how much you owe in taxes, reviewing it and clicking send. Your taxes would done in about five minutes.

An easier form to file taxes has been championed by both Republicans, like Ronald Reagan, and Democrats, like President Obama, and is a common practice in other countries. But an easier version of the 1040EZ may not make its way to the U.S. anytime soon.

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In recent years, senators in Congress have proposed legislation requiring the IRS to give taxpayers a pre-prepared income tax return form along with a one-page summary of how much the federal government spent that year. But those senators have a major hurdle to contend with: Tax preparation companies, which are spending millions on lobbying Congress, ProPublica reported in March.

ProPublica said Intuit, the company that owns e-filing service TurboTax, spent more than $11 million lobbying Congress in the past five years. That’s more than tech giants Apple or Amazon spent during the same five-year period.

In 2011, when a tax-form simplification bill was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Intuit’s lobbying disclosure forms noted it "opposes IRS government tax preparation." (Though the company does support and participate in an IRS program to file lower income Americans’ taxes for free.)

In a 2010 post on its website, Intuit argued Americans should be able to do their taxes on their own so they can ensure they’re getting the best returns. "They see a conflict of interest when the government prepares, collects and enforces tax policy," the post said.

For the time being, it seems that argument has won. In all Congress’ talk of tax reform, there are no bills this year suggesting making the forms easier.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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