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to e-file, or not to e-file

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to e-file, or not to e-file

the tax season is upon us yet again, and for some of us it makes death almost preferable over doing the taxes. the maze of rules and regulations is enough to make the most adept accountants' heads spin. of course, they are not complaining. for many this is their bread and butter time of the year, as they pore over their clients' data and charge handsome fees to make the deadline.

fortunately for many of us crunching the numbers has gotten easier over the years. there are a number of software products on the market that can handle fairly complicated returns. turbotax and taxcut are the kings of the tax return hill. they offer multiple versions of their products that can handle most circumstances and their price tags are quite reasonable. they offer smart interviews, provide helpful tips, allow users to download their data from various sources, and calculate the numbers on the fly. and in recent years, they also offer to handle the filing for he taxpayer through an electronic means known as e-file.

while many still use the old fashion way of returning their taxes by postal mail, a great number of taxpayers have hopped onboard and are now opting to send their taxes to the irs with e-file. the irs has been doing its part to encourage people to take advantage of e-filing. in their effort to promote its usage, they advertise the fact that e-filing makes for more accurate returns and faster processing among other points.

it's hard to disagree with their reasoning, but it got me thinking. if everyone used e-file, what happens to the thousands of people whose employment hinges on tax returns. from irs employees to postal workers, many jobs could just vanish. of course there is no point to stand against the tide of advancement. technology marches on and people simply have to adapt and improvise.

there is however another side to this story. for most taxpayer, there is a fee for this convenience. i used e-filing for my taxes last year and i was satisfied with the results. this year i decided to save the fee and send my tax return the traditional way, by mail. i was equally satisfied with the outcome. so now i wonder, if the irs is so keen on getting people to e-file, perhaps they should dump the fee and make it as affordable as the traditional way, job losses non-withstanding.

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