As we continue talking about tax time and ways to save, one thing that we’ve left out of the conversation is the complexity we all face when trying to fill out our tax forms. We have to gather up all of our documents (most of which don’t arrive at the same time) and organize them in a (hopefully) useful way before sitting down to complete our taxes.

For some of us, a tax professional is an option; for many of us, it’s not. So, we either head to the nearest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site or we hunker down with either the online or paper forms and get to work. And, work it is. It is estimated that, on average, many American taxpayers will spend as many as 24 hours preparing tax forms. That’s an ENTIRE DAY spent finding paperwork, organizing forms, and completing returns.

But what if there was an easier way? Like say, having your form pre-filled out for you leaving you to simply review and approve? Well, if you give it some thought, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a lot of our income information already at hand – from employers and banks. If we are some of the (soon-to-be larger number of[1]) Americans who take the standard deduction, the IRS has exactly what they need to prefill our tax forms. And, this is not a new idea, several countries already pre-fill tax forms.

The savings from pre-filling forms can not only be measured in less time (and frustration), but also in errors[2] (there would be far fewer, which saves review time (us) and audit time (IRS), and a likely increase in all of us properly receiving our credits, which we can then add to our refund and save in a savings account, which would be especially easy if we #AddALineForSaving.

Add Pre-filled tax forms to the growing list of ideas that could help Arkansas and Mississippi families save money AND time.

[1] One of the likely outcomes of the recent tax changes on the federal level is that more Americans will now take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions as they do today.

[2] The IRS can be sure that the information is correct because they will have popped it into the form. Combine that with the existing error rate of paper filing vs e-filing (folks are 20% more likely to have an error when paper filing) and the prevention-of-error savings stacks up.

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