Why do people have to file their own taxes?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2022 | Tax Law

If you’re working your way through your taxes, you might find yourself asking one very simple: Why? 

It’s not that you don’t understand why you have to pay taxes, but you may wonder why you have to file them. You are not trained as a tax expert or an accountant, most likely. If the government wants you to pay a certain amount in taxes, and they already have a lot of your information on hand, couldn’t they just send you a bill for how much you have to pay? Why do you have to try to do the paperwork?

A two-party reporting system

One reason that is sometimes given is the fact that current taxes are a two-party system. If you have an employer, they report what you earned to the IRS. You also report what you earned. Ideally, all this matches up in the government knows that both of you are being honest.

If this was removed and the government simply told you how much they thought you had to pay, would that incentivize people to not correct mistakes? Say you could see that the government should have charged you more in taxes, but they failed to do so. Would you call and tell them about the error, or would you just be happy that you paid less?

With the system set up the way that it is now, the government may have a better chance to catch mistakes that taxpayers make. Therefore, while it is a hassle for you to figure out your taxes, the government may see this as a better option for them, which is why they would be hesitant to change the laws.

What if you do make a mistake?

Mistakes happen all the time with taxes. It’s understandable that you’d be stressed about making one, but just take the time to look into your legal options.