Easy Tax Returns: Is the 1040-EZ as easy as can be?

Some of the earliest examples of writing historians have discovered include records of tax payments. Let’s not forget, complaints that taxes are too complex are nearly as old.

Tax authorities have always tried to strike a balance between a simple tax code and a tax code that rewards behaviors they’d like to encourage. The most effective way to do that? Give different taxpayers different ways to file — big corporations like GE may file a 40,000-page tax return, while an individual might file a 1040-EZ. But are these “easy” tax returns easy enough?


The 1040-EZ, originally released in 1982, was designed to be the easiest of easy tax returns. And it is easier than the standard tax forms — it excludes anyone who is claiming dependents, earning $100,000 or over age 65. And it doesn’t allow any tax credits besides the Earned Income Tax Credit.

For many taxpayers, that’s simple enough — but it’s not an easy tradeoff to make. After all, giving up education credits, the child tax credit, and the saver’s tax credit are all tax credits that lower-income taxpayers could take, but that wouldn’t be available to someone filling out a simple form.

Instead of having easy forms, it’s a safer decision to make it easy to prepare them. Taxpayers shouldn’t spend hours figuring out their eligibility for a tax credit. Nonetheless, ones that aren’t making them much money in the end. Instead, the simplest technique is to do as much as possible automatically. Automated, online filing can give taxpayers access to tax credits they could take advantage of, without forcing them to waste time on the ones that aren’t worth it.

It doesn’t make sense to just focus on the forms. Easy tax returns don’t come from shorter forms — they come from easy ones! That’s why RapidTax always makes it as easy as possible to file taxes online.

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