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Making It Easier To File Federal Taxes

One UMD professor is pitching a new, all-electronic system

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One University of Maryland professor is calling for changes to how people file their federal tax return. 
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One University of Maryland professor is calling for changes to how people file their federal tax return. 

With Congress debating ways to simplify the tax code, one University of Maryland professor is offering a technological solution. 

The current system involves filling out dozens of pages of forms about marital status, military service or recent unemployment history. Then there's the deductions: did you buy a house? Have a kid? Work from a home office? 

"Tax law has gotten sort of over the top in terms of complexity.," says Daniel Goldberg, taxation professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. Goldberg believes that as lawmakers attempt to reform the tax system they need to use contemporary technologies to simplify the method of recording what people are spending. 

He says besides changing the tax code, lawmakers need to update how people physically file their taxes. Goldberg favors a progressive, consumption-based tax system that would electronically record what people are spending throughout the year. 

"It' s time to revise the tax law, and make it smoother, make it fairer, make it more pro-economy, and it can be done by adopting a system that is electronic," Goldberg says. "No one would have ever created this pencil and paper system we have today if twenty first century technology were available."

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are debating how to simplify the tax code by undoing various deductions, but Goldberg maintains simplifying the transmission of taxes could save the country hundreds of billions of dollars annually. 

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