Letters to the Editor

The editorial on tax filing left out a few crucial details

As an accountant, I am confused about computer applications and the systems world.

But I am careful not to suggest simplistic radical change because the environment is complex.
Why? Because I certainly would overlook important issues and constraints, as you did in your editorial, 'Why file at all?'.

Likewise, computer experts should exercise similar caution before recommending radical change in the tax arena.

Certainly, you are aware that much information beyond wage, mortgage and property data is not forwarded to the IRS.

There are hundreds of lines on the 1040 and associated tax schedules. They are there to provide for input of deductible expense or credit data that might benefit the taxpayer.

The IRS does not have electronic access to this information and never will.

Gains or losses on sale of stock are based on taxpayer cost basis information. Taxpayers who would allow the IRS to prepare their return based on incomplete data would deny themselves a smaller tax burden.

Given the existing tax code, shortcuts to preparation would, in millions of cases, harm the taxpayer at both the federal and state levels.

However, if the tax code was overhauled and significantly less data was relevant your suggestion might have merit.

Jackie Goldman, CPA

Office of Audit

Health and Human Services Department

New York

Focus on the real source of the problem: the tax code

I agree with your editorial, 'Why file at all?'

But why not go to the source of the problem'the tax code itself.

Tell Congress and the president it is time to seriously consider a simple tax code: income minus tax; no deductions, no nothing.

Unfortunately, the tax code today is more than a device to generate revenue to fund our government.

The federal tax code has become a tool to modify economic behavior. And as long as it is, you will never see any true transformation to eliminate people's filing of tax returns.

Christian Thompson

Kingstowne, Va.

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