Witness the verbal gymnastics of Dan Maurer, Intuit SVP, as he tries to absolve both Tim Geithner and his firm from the mistakes on Geithner's return:
That said, the fault can hardly lie with TuboTax, which cannot be expected to have a separate section to cover the special tax difficulties of a few thousand IMF employees out of the millions of returns it handles every year.
The National Review is skeptical that this can have been an honest mistake. On the one hand, whatever the difficulties of our tax system, I find it hard to imagine how anyone could confuse 1099 income with W-2 income. On the other hand, I've never worked for the IMF, and I don't know what sort of forms they hand people. And having spent sixteen hours doing my taxes last year--me, with no mortgage or depreciating assets, much less exotic tax-free financial instruments--I'm not willing to say that it couldn't have been simple human error.
So who to blame, in the absence of a convenient reflexive? My candidate is America's absurdly inefficient tax code. Tax simplification is one of the most economically productive reforms we could make. But there are just too many people getting tax credits who will fight fiercely to defend them. And Obama seems to share the mania for "targeted tax credits" aka opaque and inefficient subsidies.
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