Tax Day. Perhaps the most reviled day on the calendar. This year, rendering to Uncle Sam what he deems his was a particularly odious task. Writing that check to the federal government stung even more than usual considering the latest bureaucratic nightmare it will eventually fund: ObamaCare. But the amount of their income taxpayers send to Washington, D.C. every year is only the final insult in the torturous process of filing annual tax returns.
Many tax filers spent the two months preceding April 15th bowed over their kitchen table, calculator in hand, poring over W-2s, 1044s or other puzzling tax forms, trying to figure out how much of their hard-earned income they’d be forced to part with. Some taxpayers invested in online software programs to help with tax preparation.
According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, “one-third (33.6%) of consumers will prepare their taxes using computer software, 23.5 percent will use an accountant, 17.6 percent will use a tax preparation service, 11.8 percent will have a friend, spouse or other relative prepare their taxes for them and will prepare their taxes by hand.” The tax filing process has become so convoluted and complex that average, intelligent Americans must seek outside assistance to make sure they file correctly.
As some co-workers and I commiserated with each other over our tax preparation woes last week, we discussed how wrong it was that three college-educated women (I have a law degree!) are forced to seek professional help in filing what should be a simple tax return. Instead, we're lost in a maze of acronyms, numbered forms and complex math equations. The tax forms, receipts, and paperwork littering my dining room table looked like John Nash’s office in A Beautiful Mind. Filing taxes shouldn't take degrees in advanced mathematics and cryptography.
The common sentiment I've encountered during tax season is absolute disdain for tax filing process and the government it represents. It’s not disdain for the form of government, but how that form has been so bastardized that it now abuses the taxpayers who prop it up with their income. A new Pew Research Center survey found that an astonishing 80 percent of Americans distrust their government.