Monday, April 04, 2005

Technology triumphs when tax simplification fails

For years, we have been hearing about "tax simplification."

One radio talk show host mentioned some 1,500 page document entitled "Tax Simplification."

1,500 pages, simplification? he ask.

Our society is just too complex. It is doubtful that the political process could ever boil everyone's divergent needs, exemptions, exclusions, what ever, into a simple process.

When people and politics can't solve a problem, technology often provides the fix.

E-filing one's income taxes on-line.

It's a lot easier.

When one files on-line, much of the complexity is "crunched" by computers behind the scene.

Number crunching other people's complexities away.

Imagine, a form tailored to just me.

It's already here.

Just answer questions to whittle down the forms. The answer isn't that hard, it's usually "no."


I don't have ...

A farm,

No, I don't have a business.

Kids, selling a house, blind, veteran, in a combat zone, claiming educational credits, recently divorced, married, remarried, paying alimony, had the vault from my bank fall on my head, what ever; bla, bla, bla.

No, No, No.

It's no.

No isn't too hard to say.

Any small amount of these things isn't too bad.

It's just when all of society's complexities comes at you, on one form (stack of forms), it is a bit much.

Just a handful of "yes's" doesn't create too much complexity.

The computer can tailor that filing experience to each individual. Reducing clutter.

Eventually, the computer eliminates the complexities of other people, and just retains my own complexities.

Yes, I do have a small amount of money in a mutual fund, for instance.

The system tailored to my situation.

It becomes a matter of just gathering one's statements, from mutual funds, W2s or what ever.

Then, plugging the numbers in where the computer says to do so.

It still pays to keep things organized, however.

Tax simplification has been, to a large extent, accomplished by technology.

No comments: