January 7th, 2009

diarmuid

Undermining the fight against tax policy complexity

TurboTax.

I know I'm not the first to say this (because I remember reading a piece on it last year, around the time I was doing the taxes on TurboTax) -- but TurboTax has turned doing taxes into a kind of a game. It makes tax filing almost fun.

You put in more info, TurboTax recalculates, and your refund/amount owed goes up and down. You click off options, and see the impact. You look at what happens if you make various contributions to an IRA. With a married couple it can be even more fun, especially when one of the married couple is 13 years older than the other. Contribution limits for IRAs can differ by age, doncha know.

Thing is, TurboTax hides all the tax complexity ugliness from the user, and thus the political pressure to simplify tax structure goes down. Everybody loves to play the game "Find a deduction!" - and it's also fascinating reading some of the deductions on the federal and state level. Hmmm, I have not started a wind farm, but it tempts me...