Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Tax season is upon us, that time of year when Americans sweat over their 1040 forms or pay someone else to sweat over their 1040s for them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. An opt-in system called ReadyReturn, widely used in European countries, prepares taxes automatically for free, and most U.S. taxpayers can benefit from something like it. A Tippie College of Business tax expert says it’s time to adopt a ReadyReturn system in the United States.

ryan wilson
Ryan Wilson

“For the more than 90% of American taxpayers who just have withholding taxes or 1099s, the government already has all the information needed to prepare the returns,” said Ryan Wilson, professor of accounting “This would save Americans a tremendous amount of time, money, and anxiety.”

He says that ReadyReturn is used in many European countries—like the UK, Denmark, Sweden, and Spain—where the government prepares your tax return for you. They mail you the return and, if you agree with what the government says you, all you have to do is sign off on it.

And it’s free.

More complicated returns would still need to be completed by a professional. And if someone wants to do their own return even if they’re eligible for a ReadyReturn, they still can, he said.

But for more than 90% of Americans who have relatively simple returns, he said the government already has all the information needed to prepare them. There’s little point in taxpayers submitting W2s and other tax paperwork to the IRS when the agency already has all that. He said a ReadyReturn would make the annual tax return process far less stressful for most.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (o); 319-541-8434 (c); tom-snee@uiowa.edu