A proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives to extend the deadline for people who file their federal tax forms electronically is only half a bad idea.
The plan is to have an April 15 due date for people who file the old-fashioned paper forms and an April 30 deadline for electronic filing.
The bad part of the idea is setting two deadlines. Why mess with a date etched in everybody's brain? Procrastinators already have enough trouble getting under the wire without the expected confusion of two dates.
The good part of the idea, however, is to provide an incentive for people to file their tax returns electronically.
The IRS received about 53 million electronic returns this year out of 130 million total tax returns. The goal is to have 80 percent of returns filed electronically by 2007.
"E-file is quicker; e-file is more accurate," said Robert Wenzel, acting IRS commissioner. "E-file is the best way to confirm the IRS received your return, and it's the fastest route to a refund."
The IRS says electronic filing reduces errors, speeds processing time, is cheaper and provides better security for private information.
"We have less paper coming in these days, so we've needed fewer people processing those returns," spokesman Terry Lemons said. "It's allowed us to free up resources for other resources, particularly customer service."
Shouldn't that also mean less cost to taxpayers?
So the better idea would be to keep a single deadline, April 15, and offer electronic filers a financial incentive. How about a few bucks off your tax bill for helping to make government less costly and more efficient?
Now, about the rest of the tax code ....