Young black couple having problems with online banking at home.


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When tax time rolls around, people everywhere gather their receipts and paycheck stubs and forms and ... wait, is this really everywhere? In countries like Denmark, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom people don't have to hassle with taxes — the governments file for citizens (for free, by the way) and only ask that people sign off on it. 

That's not just a nice perk — it's also a time- and sanity-saving measure. Paying taxes in the U.S. costs Americans an average of 13 hours and $200. Americans aren't thrilled about this. As @mommysuplex tweeted, "TurboTax is such a scam. Literally just talked to an agent and all they did was make me pay an extra $130 for nothing. My return was the exact same. Can't even go back to my original plan without restarting everything."

So — with another tax year in our rearview mirror — it seems as good a time as any to ask: Why do Americans have to shell out so much when other countries don't? 

Here's why: Tax prep companies like TurboTax and H&R Block spend a lot of money on government lobbies to make sure Americans have the same tax slog, year after year after year. According to one report, TurboTax spent $3.5 million in 2022 alone on lobbying efforts, and upward of $15 million since 2018. 

This isn't going unnoticed. As @ImSeanThompson tweeted, "It's Tax Day tomorrow. Good time for a friendly reminder that the US tax filing systems is a scam run by preparation lobbyists and could easily be free and headache free like 30 other countries in the world.

Not everyone in government is OK with the current system. As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS is getting $80 billion, some of which is earmarked to improve the taxpayer experience. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has twice tried to pass a Tax Filing Simplification Act (2016 and 2019) but it was never brought up for a vote.

Gallery: 10 Ways Taxes Might Affect Your Relationship

@moreperfectunion how h&r block and intuit stopped the IRS from offering free tax filing #taxes #april15 #fyp #foryou #TurboTaxAndRelax #elizabethwarren ♬ original sound - More Perfect Union

Warren isn't done yet. In addition to wanting the average American to have an easier, less-expensive tax-filing experience, she also wants the rich to pay more taxes than they historically have. She's currently demanding the passage of a wealth tax that would negate the huge tax breaks the ultra-rich get, as well as an end to corporate tax breaks for companies taking jobs offshore. No matter your politics, this seems like something most of us can get behind. 

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