It’s just about that time of year again for US residents to file their income taxes (and for some, to pay up), if they have not done so already.
And again, the IRS and the tax agencies of the various states beg taxpayers to “e-file” their tax return. I say, it’s time for them to provide individuals with a real means to do so.
What is the problem? It’s privacy. Lots of us, myself included, do not like being spied upon. But we do have obligations to pay taxes. And there is the need to check information to ensure the taxes are accurate and fair. So I’m quite willing to provide the IRS with the standard information that is needed to figure my taxes. Technically, they are spying on us. But it is transparent because we can see what they are getting. And their motives are limited to collecting the correct tax.
Businesses, however, are always trying to spy on us with other motives. In most cases this motive is marketing. The collection and sale of personal information is a huge behind the scenes business. Business want the information, or they want the revenues from providing it.
Now consider e-filing of taxes. The IRS and state tax agencies don’t really want you to e-file with them. Instead, they want you to e-file through some business. But there is no means, such as data encryption, to ensure privacy. And given so many businesses are doing such a poor job of keeping data secure, the risk of e-filing through a business is much greater than just the risk they will step up marketing messages at you.
So for yet another year I am NOT e-filing. I mailed my tax return printed on paper. And I saved that outrageous fee (typically over $10 if you don’t qualify for one of the free programs, which still go through some corporation, anyway). It cost me the paper, postage, envelope, and the trip to the post office to be sure they got it. It didn’t cost me my privacy.