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The IRS should handle all tax filing for individuals, not Intuit or H&R Block or Tax Act. I should be able to go to a web site operated by the IRS and enter my raw data. The IRS would then figure my taxes and that would be that. The data would go directly into the IRS computers and there would be no gouging the public with e-filing fees -- on the contrary, e-filing should be free and there should be a fee for processing paper returns.

I'm iffy on the charge to paper file, but otherwise, hear, hear! I've been filing state returns through their websites for years. Lots of people at IRS agree, but not enough to make it happen. There's also a problem that has plagued e-file from the beginning: the software/prep industry. Because of the complexity of the law it's unreasonable to expect everyone to be able to file unassisted, and IRS doesn't have, and isn't likely to get, the resources needed to advise them. There's also a perfectly understandable reluctance to install the IRS as the sole authority on tax law. As is the case with so many things in Washington, there's a public/private tension that's not easily resolved, especially with Congress dipping its oar in at regular intervals.

There would be no questioning whether this or that part of the tax code was interpreted correctly because, being the IRS, the calculations would be correct ipso facto.

Direct web filing wouldn't solve interpretation problems. What you're talking about is at its highest level fifth grade arithmatic. The interpretation problems involve what numbers to put on the return, not how to crunch them once they're there.

It should be free, as well. The cost of collecting taxes should be part of the IRS' cost of doing business, not an additional burden to the taxpayer.

The cost of administering the system is part of IRS's cost of doing business. Who do you think pays the bills? Well, OK, nowadays it's the Chinese who'll lend us money, but in the grand scheme, the taxpayers pay no matter how you handle the accounting.

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