With less than a month to go before our taxes are due on April 18, many Arkansans are hard at work navigating our nation’s complicated and confusing tax code. Over the past 15 years, there have been nearly 6,000 changes to the tax code, an average of more than one a day. It’s no wonder that the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office within the IRS, estimates that individuals and businesses spend six billion hours each year to comply with the tax code. Fortunately, navigating the complex tax code has become easier. The paper, pencil and calculator method of figuring out taxes now includes easier ways to file income taxes.
Private businesses have made filing taxes more painless for us. Advertisements for tax preparation services and tax software are fixtures on TV during this time of the year. More than 90 percent of individuals rely on these to file their income taxes.
For more than a decade, the IRS has worked with several private online tax preparation businesses to form the Free File Alliance. This program helps make it easier for people to file their taxes online. Taxpayers who earned less than $64,000 last year are eligible for free online individual income tax preparation and electronic filing services.
Unfortunately, this program is underutilized by eligible taxpayers. That’s why I recently joined Governor Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas organizations to increase awareness of this program.
Arkansas is one of 21 states that has its own Free File programs, allowing eligible taxpayers to file both their federal and state tax return online for free. This is an important service that enables Arkansans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
I’m proud to support the goals of the Free File Alliance. This is an important resource that makes tax preparation easier and increases access to free online filing options for eligible taxpayers and makes the federal government operate more efficiently. The Government Accountability Office estimates the Free File Alliance has saved the IRS at least $105 million in processing costs. This is an important public-private partnership that uses the expertise of tax preparation companies to empower Arkansans and all Americans to better understand their finances and ease tax filing complications.
There is still time to take advantage of this service for 2016 tax filings. I encourage Arkansans to learn more about this program and use this free service at www.irs.gov/freefile.