Why the government makes filing your taxes intentionally difficult

"Congress should be making it easier for Americans to file their taxes each year, not bowing to the interests of the tax prep industry."

SOURCEIn These Times
Image Credit: Getty Images

In 1981, when she was 10, Jill Young moved with her family from California to Washington state for her father’s job. The job paid a six-figure salary, which Young says led the family to believe their financial situation was pretty great. But a year later, their family moved back to California. Not long after, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flagged them for an audit. Amid managing three young children and two moves within such a short time span, Young’s parents were suddenly under the gun to dig up old paperwork.

“They fought constantly,” Young remembers, and it “vastly affected” her father’s credit. “He had to find all his related paperwork and receipts to prove that he filled out his taxes correctly. But he could not find the paperwork from that year, and so he was forced to pay penalties since he couldn’t offer proof otherwise.”

This memory feels more potent this time of year as Young, who works as a contract analyst for the state of California, prepares her own federal and state tax returns. A single mother of two, she lives paycheck to paycheck. Filing her tax return, she says, has always been stressful.

Read the rest at In These Times.


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Elizabeth Zach is the staff writer at the nonprofit Rural Community Assistance Corporation, where she covers rural poverty and economies, the environment, and tribal issues across the 13 states of the American West, including Alaska and Hawaii. In 2018, she reported on persistent poverty as a Marguerite Casey Foundation Equal Voices Journalism Fellow. In 2016, she was a fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism, writing on rural healthcare in California. In 2015, she was a media fellow at Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, for which she researched and wrote about women farmers and ranchers.