Saturday, September 25, 2010

The IRS Gets Something Right, But....

One of the obscure benefits of being a tax preparer is getting regular e-mails and news releases from the IRS. At least 90% of them are irrelevant to me or repeat things I already know well, but Friday saw the arrival of some important news. Here is the quote:

Individuals and business taxpayers will no longer receive paper income tax packages in the mail from the IRS. These tax packages contained the forms, schedules and instructions for filing a paper income tax return.

The IRS is taking this step because of the continued growth in electronic filing and the availability of free options to taxpayers, as well as to help reduce costs. In early October, the IRS will send a postcard to individuals who filed paper returns last year and did not use a tax preparer or tax software. The information will explain how to get the tax forms and instructions they need for filing their tax year 2010 return. The forms and instructions will be available in early January 2011.
This will probably save the IRS—in other words, the taxpayers—tens of millions of dollars, and for this I applaud them. The IRS is also making a similar change for businesses, although relatively few businesses use paper returns. Of course, nearly all tax forms and their (sometimes voluminous) instructions are available on the website, further reducing the need for paper forms to be mailed.

So the IRS got one right. They also got one wrong. Included in the same e-mail news was the following:
Publication 4845, Key Points about Residential Energy Credits, is now available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian. The flyer highlights key points about the Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit and the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.
So our tax dollars were spent writing a document in languages which it need not be written in. This also gives immigrants (legal and otherwise) one less incentive to learn the English language and better assimilate into our culture. Of course, if English were the official language, this would be much less of an issue.

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