The IRS recently released a revised version of the Form 1040, designed to implement the Republican promise that the 2017 tax reform legislation would give taxpayers the ability to file taxes by completing a “postcard” form, rather than the lengthy Form 1040 of the past.
The new Form 1040 is a two-sided, 5 inch by 7.5 inch paper with six new schedules attached. Schedules that were previously required continue to exist. The postcard form also eliminates certain items that were modified by the tax reform legislation, such as the personal exemption and some miscellaneous itemized deductions.
We asked Professors Robert Bloink and William Byrnes, who write for ALM’s Tax Facts and hold opposing political viewpoints, to share their opinions on whether the newly designed Form 1040 would simplify the tax filing process for this year’s filing season, or simply result in more confusion.
Below is a summary of the debate that ensued between the two professors.
Byrnes: For the vast majority of taxpayers, this newly designed postcard Form 1040 will make filing taxes significantly more simple, which was exactly what was promised when we enacted the tax reform package. I think the new form is unquestionably an improvement over what we were working with in past years.
Bloink: This is another Republican ploy to make taxpayers think that something has been changed, that we’ve simplified the process—the new form isn’t more simple at all! It only rearranges what was previously there. Moving a few things around and calling it a simplified “postcard” does not give Republicans the right to tout this as another tax-related victory. If anything, filing will be more confusing for many taxpayers this year.
Byrnes: Just look at the first page—before, it required 17 lines just to list a taxpayer’s income. We eliminated 10 of those lines. That’s just one example of how the 1040 has been simplified. Taxpayers who previously itemized deductions don’t have to worry about that anymore, all of those lines are gone.