Friday, January 28, 2005

I'm ready to do my taxes . . .

. . . but I can't.  Why not?  Simply because I have not received my W-2's and interest statements.  My mortgage interest statements I can actually download from my bank's website, but not until Jan. 31.  So I have all of the numbers that I need:

  • I know my mortgage interest.
  • I know all my tax withholding from my paycheck stubs.
  • I know all my back account and investment interest.
  • I know the values of all my deductions.

But I can't file my taxes because I don't have any of the official forms that I have to include with my filing.  It seems to me that if the government can figure out how to get all 3 credit reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free annual credit report, they certainly should be able to create some sort of digital storage warehouse of all my relevant tax forms that are updated online in real-time all year long.

Imagine how simple a tax form could be if all of your credit documents were stored in a secure digital warehouse.  If you used some sort of software to do your taxes yourself, you could simply direct the software to grab the data from the warehouse and auto-populate the return; instead of attaching all kinds of hard copy to your return, the return could simply reference the warehouse location.  Similarly, if you used a tax preparer, you could simply give the preparer access to data in your warehouse for that year and let their software pull relevant data and input the same reference information.  Once your return was submitted to the IRS, the IRS computers could automatically verify return information against data in the warehouse, and auditors would only have to look at manually inputted data such as donations, business expenses, etc.


Chris said...

Ross, if you file electronically (I happen to use TurboTax, but you don't have to), you can submit your return without having the forms in hardcopy. I'd suggest being REALLY sure you know the numbers (if you have the year end stubs and can look the values up online, I guess you already have them).

Tastes great. Less filling.


Ross said...

I guess you've got a great point -- you don't send in any hardcopy with Turbotax, do you? Thanks for the advice.

Part of the reason that I've never used Turbotax is that I like my preparer to look over the numbers, make suggestions, etc. and the preparer will assist me in the audit, but perhaps I will check it out this year.

Thanks again.