Simplifying Tax for the Average Citizen Joseph Bankman Ralph M. Parsons Professor of Law and Business, Stanford Law School [email protected] Compliance and Other Costs Borne by Average Taxpayers • Tax system imposes large compliance costs on businesses and high-income individuals • Tax system also imposes compliance costs on taxpayers with “simple” returns – What’s a W-2? 1099? Should I hire a preparer? Which preparer? File myself? Which return? Have I saved all the records? Understood the form? Copied numbers correctly? Done the math right? – Economists measure costs as function of time and money, but can’t measure anxiety, frustration and anger Many of These Costs are Unnecessary • Tens of millions of taxpayers (3 million in California) have only wage income; even more (4 million in California) have wage income and less than $200 interest income and don’t itemize • The State now checks return against reported wage data and checks math • If the State’s numbers are different than the taxpayer’s numbers, the State sends the taxpayer a deficiency notice • Why doesn’t the State start the process off by telling taxpayers the information it has and the tax liability it thinks that information produces? • Because State already has info, inexpensive to produce Compare a Tax Return to a VISA bill • VISA doesn’t send taxpayers a blank sheet and ask customers to write down all their transactions • Instead, it lists the transactions it has in its computer • Customers insist on this – and not just because it saves time and effort • Customers need the list so they can look for mistakes or false charges California ReadyReturn Pilot • A 2004 pro-forma or “ReadyReturn” sent to 50,000 taxpayers who had only wage income in 2003. ReadyReturn also available on-line • ReadyReturn shows 2004 data reported to FTB and tentative tax liability • Taxpayers have option of filing return as written, correcting return, using data on return to get head start on filing a traditional return, or giving return to preparer Pilot Program Results • Despite no advance publicity or mailings, 15%-20% of taxpayers filed ReadyReturn – Of course, more presumably used Ready Return to help prepare their own returns • 99% of taxpayers surveyed who used the Ready Return said they’d use in next year – (Preliminary results: based on e-filing taxpayers who completed survey) Comments Tell the Story* • • • • “Fantastic Service” “Best thing in the world” “Whoever thought of this deserves a big fat raise” “This is a great program and one that everyone should be using” • “Go Governator” • “Wow! Government doing something to make life easier for a change” • “I hope I can file my federal return the same way next year” * See Appendix for comprehensive sample of comments Minor Criticisms • Some comments point out flaws in the “beta” version of the ReadyReturn – For example, some taxpayers were confused by the use of the term PIN • These useful criticisms/suggestions could easily be dealt with in future years • All the comments received in the first survey are reproduced, unedited, at the end of this presentation – Returns and comments are still coming in. Later comments are consistent with earlier comments and omitted for space reasons Bi-Partisan Support • Leading Officials from Reagan, Bush & Clinton Administrations • Wide array of tax scholars and policymakers Opposition of Libertarians and Others • Taxpayers will be intimidated into accepting the state’s numbers – Taxpayers had no trouble saying “no” and those who used the program loved it • Privacy concerns – Program requires no new information and enhances privacy rights by letting taxpayers know what info government already has • Program will deter “real” reform – Connection between this proposal and other reforms is unclear – Taxpayers might not agree as to what constitutes “real” reform; what they agree on is that this program makes their life a little better What about Tax Preparers? • This won’t affect most preparers • Some preparers feel they’ve got a franchise to protect and have opposed program • One false argument: public sector competes with private sector – Government could contract out with private sector to send out notices or maintain web site – Real issue is whether taxpayers would find it useful to know the information already reported to government and the tentative tax liability that stems from that information Making Taxes and the Tax System More Visible • Filling out a tax return mostly tests reading, math and record-keeping skills and leaves many taxpayer worried they have made mistakes • We could increase the visibility of taxes and the tax system by adding information to the ReadyReturn – We might include in bold-faced large type the total tax paid and the marginal and average tax rates – We could add information on payroll taxes paid, etc. Maximizing Taxpayer Choice • ReadyReturn maximizes taxpayer choices – Taxpayers can file ReadyReturn, correct and file return, use return as starting point to complete return “old fashioned way,” etc. • It’s hard to see why taxpayer’s wouldn’t want the information in a ReadyReturn, but if they don’t, we could allow taxpayers to opt out of receiving correspondence Extension to Federal Returns • Issues – EITC – Timely wage data • Compared to other reforms – Much easier to implement – Scalable: can begin with a pilot program Sample Ready Return letter Step 1: Carefully review your return The income information was provided by: ACME COMPANY Step 2: Make any needed changes If you have other income . . . or need to make other changes, you can do this at our Website. Your data is already there. We’ll guide you through updating your return. Step 3: File your return Once you’re ready to file your return, you must sign it to agree that it’s correct and complete. Go to www.ftb.ca.gov/ReadyReturn and e-file. You’ll get confirmation that we received your return and the ability to schedule an online payment. If you do not want to participate in this pilot, complete a new return yourself, use tax preparation software, or visit a tax preparer. You can use the enclosed return as a starting point for completing your new return. Appendix: Taxpayer Comments on Pilot • The following slides contain all the taxpayers comments received by late March • These comments have not been edited in any form • Comments from later surveys are consistent and have been omitted only for space reasons Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "Great Pilot Makes my life easier." "This is great and easy" "Great program and easy to use, although I am computer illiterate" "Wonderful. Wish the Feds would make it this easy" "Wonderful service. I’m highly satisfied. I was disappointed at first not to have tele-file, but after receiving my invitation and seeing what was prepared and done for me I was very pleased. I would love to have this service again." "Very satisfied and impressed with this new method. Loved e-filing...love the readyreturn even more." "I wanted to direct deposit my return, but it submitted before I had a chance to do so. You should put the direct deposit 2nd instead of 3rd. I am using a Mac and the view return opened system profiler. As a result, even though I had looked at it using Adobe Acrobat 5, your site did not recognize that. I had to click o" "I was not able to type in my middle initial R.. Other than that I was happy with the program and I hope it will be available and free in the future. Thanks for keeping up with the times and making it an easy program to use." "THIS IS A GREAT PROJECT" "This is the simplest, most convenient tax filing system ever. I really am impressed. Thanks for including me in the pilot program" "It made my simple tax return a COMPLETE no-brainer." "Thank you for inviting me to use this pilot program. I was dreading having to do them since the Telefile was canceled. My taxes are easy enough it is just taking the extra time to get the taxbooklet and worksheet." "Was not clear about what a PIN number was. I thought it was something in the letter. Looked all over for it. Finally found it in the FAQ." "Line by line 540 Instruction manual was hard to find...should be very conveniently avail. With the ready return for reference, otherwise a very good process." "There is only one issue I noticed while preparing my taxes using your e-file program. None of the help items I selected displayed a help page, all came up with an Error404, Page not available. Other than that, I would like to thank you for the work that went into this service and hope to be able to use it for years" "ReadyReturn was very easy and convenient. Thank you for the invitation." "Great pilot program it makes folks that have easy returns to actually file and not have to populate all of the tax withholding information kudos” "I had difficulty in the password, in that it required numbers, not letters. Otherwise, quite a good program. Thank you." "I wish you would continue the Telefile sytem. Not everyone has access to internet. I had to go to a friend. I like doing my taxes on the phone so easy." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "This is the first time for me. I enjoyed the experience. However, your figures were not the same as my W-2 I received from my employer. I corrected the income amount from my w-2 and all is well" "Fast, easy and free. Great program." "Thank you for choosing me for this pilot program, I love it. I hope I can file my federal tax return the same way next year." "This was a great time saver. For someone like me who doesn’t make a great deal of money, it makes the tax time easier. Thanks" "In the 5 digit signature section, state that the 5 digits are of my own choice and not a predetermined selected by the State as we are used to. I finally saw that it was my choice when I viewed my return on Adobe." "I was unable to write down the DCN number on the final screen because the ReadyReturn Easy as 123 logo obscured the number. Otherwise very cool service." "The button for choosing direct deposit was after the signing and submitting form. The steps never took me back to put my direct deposit info in, so I guess the checks coming by mail" "For some reason when I tried selecting the button while completing my taxes it would never take me to the website it needed and default to a statement that said cannot find that address I found away around this though. Otherwise a very well done and very easy to use system, which I will use from here on." "The screens to change the data were not very user-friendly and there were no help options for each item. I am a web designer and I had difficulty knowing I was to add the information from my federal itemized tax return document to the fields on the screen to itemize for my state return." "Survey took longer than the efiling. Great it is easy and free. Lets see if the refund comes as quickly." "This was an incredible experience. I hope that this service is available next year." "Once I was able to get into the page. This was the easiest and the fastest experience I have ever had filing my taxes. I also called the 1800 number and received excellent help. Thank you all so much. One less headache with taxes...Someone is finally thinking about us..Thanks again" "Could not access website www.ftb.ca.govReadyReturn----I tried everything for over an hour, finally I telephoned. Was told not to capital R in ready, R in Return. I had already tried lower case." "Very convenient" "I thought this was a great pilot program. It was easy, effecient, seemingly safe and caught a mistake I would have made if I had paperfiled. I wish that I could do my federal taxes the same way" "This is an awesome pilot program that is easy to use a time-saving option for tax preparation," "I have never considered filing online before but would definitely do it again next year. I had to make changes to my return, but this was still easier than I thought it would be. Good Job with the program." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "Thanks for providing a free opportunity to file" "Good program-hope to see it in the future." "I had a problem at first getting it to Submit but after a speedy reply to my problem email, a very helpful person steered me in the right direction. Very professional. Hats off to FTB and ReadyReturn. See you next year. " "Thank you for choosing me to particapate." "Though I only speak English, I think the e-file form should be available in all languages upon prior maybe 6 months written request for uncommon foreign languages." "Again so cool" "Thank you for choosing me to participate in your pilot program. I would love to be involved again." "This was great and a lot easier than I thought it was going to be Thanks" "Your site worked well with my browser, Firefox. I appreciate this compatibility. Some tax sites only work with the insecure Internet Explorer browser." "Great new program. Quick and easy...I LOVE IT" "Thank you" "The instructions need to be clarified, it took three passes to successfully submit...Why force a print out if you make no changes. I had already completed my tax form and agreed with your mailing. Your pilot project is headed in the correct and proper direction. Good luck..." "I would like it if I were able to file earlier as I have only have one employer and always file the short form. Direct deposit is the most important thing to me and I felt confident that I was given the proper instruction on the computer and the phone. I enjoyed filing my taxes since it had already been figured out for me" "I would file with e-file every year." "Thanks it was much easier and less hassel. Hope this way is secure, yes I would use it again" "CA State method of e-filing is easier than Fed. Still filed using hardcopy and snail mail for Federal return because I didn’t see a Government run e-filing site page." "Excellent program. Very convenient and secure, will definitely use again." "Thank you for inviting me to participate. This made doing my taxes easier to understand and complete." "Thank You California FTB, this was wonderful. I hope you continue to offer this in the future. Please pass this comment to our Governor: This is one of the best products offered by the state that saves time and money for the average Californian and makes tax paying a pleasant experience. Thank You " Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "ReadyReturn is the best thing in the world. It was great, finding out that my state tax return had already been filled out, and was ready to file. It saved me a lot of time, and it was very easy to understand not confusing at all. I appreciate that the Franchise Tax Board is willing to put the time and resources in" "Wow...Government doing something to make our lives easier for a change...The Feds should take notice" "Please make it this easy to file federal taxes" "For myself, this new program for filing my taxes is good. Although I do have concerns for elderly or disabled taxpayers; some of whom may not have internet access." "I thought this was great very simple to use...thanks State of California you save me 20 bucks" "I hope this will be available next year" "Thanks" "Good Job" "It was great Please provide the service next year." "The section that requires a PIN, I was unclear if this was a number that I already had or if I was supposed to come up with one." "Thank you for inviting me to participate in the pilot program. I hope it is successful and will be repeated next year." "At one point, my browser froze and had to close. As a result I did not go to the page to donate part of my refund. I’m not sure if this was the websites fault or my browser." "I had never used an e-file before today. I was impressed on how easy this was to do, and I would do it again, because it simplifies everything, not to mention that I would get my refund a lot faster." "Great stuff go governator" "Thank you for the invitation. It was fast and easy" "It was nice not having to pay a fee for filing with the state." "Thank you for making this available Its quicker, easier, and cheaper than ... my previous method." "Excellent Great Amazing" "Wonderful service." "Font is too small. It was hard to read. Reading the directions and disclosures took the longest amount of time." "Wow What a pleasant supprise. So very convenient and fast. Thanks" "I really hope this program works because I really really like it. Great job and Great Idea" "Thanks for the invitation" Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "Made my life a lot easier." "I had trouble opening the online version of my return. I think its because I have a Macintosh. Please check it out. I use OS10.2.1 and Acrobat Reader 6.0.2" "The final question asks for a five digit PIN number. You should clearly define where to find that number." "Thank you very much, this was an incentive to file my return faster" "I would definitely prefer this method to others I have used in the past, including telefile. Thanks for the invitation." "I think the idea behind ReadyReturn is sound and should reduce the stress and dread of tax time. Having all the information available both on paper and on the internet and the convenience of taking only 5 minutes to file is a welcomed way to quickly and effortlessly complete and file your taxes. Thank you for" "THANKS FOR ASKING ME TO THE PILOT PROGRAM" "This is an excellent choice and if I have this option again, I will definitely use it. Great idea." "This is great" "You never anywhere state weather we as a taxpayer have to send anything other than what you generated online" "I feel this is a great program. It is easier to understand that other tax sofware. I hope this will be available to me again next year." "From the letter it is not clear on internet access, did not ask to use http I did call and had a very good response from your online assistance, I have done online support myself and found your assistance very good" "I’m happy this only took approximately 10 minutes and no more stress" "I really missTelefile..." "Thank you for such an easy tax return...bravo" "ReadyReturn was very fast and very easy. If given the opportunity again, I was use this method to file my return." "Had problems using Adobe Acrobat reader to view return. I called the toll free number given and was pleased to reach a live person. They were helpful. I would use this again because it made filing very easy. Thanks" "This was a very easy process, and I thought my taxes couldn’t get any easier I think this would benefit people who haven’t filed before, to guide them through the process and show them that its nothing to be afraid of." "You should have clarified the PIN number. I had to call to find out what it was" "Thanks for making my filing so much easier this year. I hope you keep this around forever Whoever thought of this deserves a big fat raise" "If you keep this pilot, can it come out any earlier The middle of February would be great." "I think everyone should be able to do this by e-mail." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "FANTASTIC service Please implement tthis program" "I hope this service becomes standardized. Quik and convenient." "I think this is a wonderful service and I hope I can file this way again next year. It was very easy and saved me some money." "Great, keep up the good work." "Works for me-thanks" "It took a few minutes to actually find the ReadyReturn portion of the website. I had expected it to be more prominently displayed. Instead, I first went to CalFile. Also, I think there should be a separate screen for direct deposit—which I wanted—but apparently missed the opportunity to indicate that." "Thank you for making it easier to file my Tax Return" "Keep up the good work" "Need to have a Quick Link to access the Pilot Program. It took 3 times to enter the system because of manual typing addresses." "There is nothing about direct deposit with efile. Nothing mentioned about length of time to receive paper check." "This was the best way to file my state taxes. If filing becomes this easy it would eliminate all stress associated with filing your taxes. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this pilot." "I would love to be able to use this service every year. Also, I wish the Federal Tax Board would offer this service" "I think this is a great pilot program. It makes filing easier. Great job." "Thank you for making this available You’re great" "Make a note in the instructions to edit the tax return if one would like to use direct deposit. Granted that is very much user error on my own part, unfortunately I caught it after submitting. Along that thread would be nice if there was information for amending after submitting should an error be caught then." "This was so easy I wish that this program were available for my federal return I would definitely use this again next year-great system" "Keep me on your invitation list" "An additional line for the Federal Adj Gross Income figure in the worksheet would have made it simpler to edit Ca return to match my Federal return." "The only trouble I had was the pin" "It would help if the readyreturn link was easier to find. It took me a couple of passes through the site before I actually found the readyreturn page link thankyou" "Thanks for allowing me to participate in this pilot project." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "This has made my life a lot easier. Thank you." "Thank you so much for making something that always is stressful much easier. I was able to understand the procedure and felt that I was in control of what was being done with my taxes instead of someone preparing it for me. I think this is great." "THIS IS A GREAT PROGRAM AND ONE THAT EVERYONE SHOULD BE USING." "I really like this program. I am not really good with math and this helped me a lot. However, I missed the part about having my return direct deposited into my account. " "This was great" "I think this was a great service to provide. It saves time and money." "FANTASTIC IDEA, GREAT EASY PROGRAM THANK YOU FOR THE OPPOTRUNITY TO PARTICIPATE" "I think it is great that the state is finally using technology to benefit the residents. Paying taxes shouldn’t be so complex. I am very happy that this program is available and it should save the state millions of dollars in resources. Good job California" "Thank you, this was fast and easy" "Tele-File and E-File without having to purchase extra software are very good options.They are the fastest and best way in my opinion. Paper filing is still necessary for those who don’t like the internet. However I feel that E-file will become more popular. Starting it now and developing it is a good idea." "Thank you for making it easier for people." "THERE WAS NOWHERE TO INPUT MY BANK INFO FOR DIRECT DEPOSIT." "The site was very easy to follow and understand." "Thanks for making it quicker for me" "Great idea, super easy, keep up the good work. Save taxpayer rmoney by using this type of friendly government websites." "It was great. Took away all my worries" "This was great for people with one job and nothing else. If I had more than one income I might not file this way." "This new pilot is easy and quick. This is my first time, so I really liked it" "When I received the letter in the mail and saw who it was from, I thought Oh no, audit time. But this was so cool For some reason the Federal is so much easier to do and file, now you made filing my state income tax so much easier. Thank you" "I hope you continue this program and that I can use it again next year." "I had difficulty accessing my file, and had to use the FTB search engine to access it. ftb.ca.govReadyReturn didn’t work—the search engine added the index.html which worked." "VERY SATISFIED" Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "This has been a great experience. Never before has it taken 5 minutes for me to file my taxes" "This was WONDERFUL, what a great way to file my state taxes, I wish the federal was as easy. It’s a no brainer, I hope I can do it this way for the following years. Thanks so much." "Incredibly convenient way to file" "If federal taxes was this easy" "This is an awesome and amazingly easy application. Thankyou." "It was the best." "This was great, I would like to be able to do the same with my federal return as it fairly simple like the state tax was. Great way to save money." "Love it what a great time money saver" "THIS WAS FABULOUS, IT SAVED ME LOTS OF TIME AND HAVING TO COMPUTE. SO EASY I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS TOOL TO EVERYONE." "This was great hope u do it every year" "I like it Its easy since I do not have any other deductions. Thanks for doing this." "Thanks for including me in the pilot program." "I received a letter sent previous e-filers that the CSN was no longer needed toE-file. I could not get the program to work as described in the letter signed by [FTB]. The phone call to learn the letter was in error was a waste of my time and the letter was a waste of FTB time and money. I ft" "This is great service from my government. I love the invite and wish the feds would do the same. Good work and thanks from this taxpayer." "Everything worked great. The taxpayer pin number thing seemed a little arbitrary since I already provided my soc sec. Why not just ask for the date of birth like the Federal govts telefile" "This was a very easy way to file and I would definitely like to do it the same way next year." "Thanks for this option. I’m always confused when I have to do my taxes and usually need help. It was nice and very convenient to have the form already filled out with all my information. I’m definitely not stressed out about doing my taxes because it was so easy. I would definitely use this service again next year" "I would appreciate the teacher tax credit being reinstated." "I thought the Requirements needed to E-File were a little confusing." "Thank you for providing this great service" Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "This was great Thanks" "I really enjoyed using this program. Thanks for choosing me for the pilot program. It was so simple" "It was Great Fast, easy, and reliable." "Thanx guys. This was really quick!" "Assigning your own PIN number was rather confusing at first as it would appear to me that the tax return would have had print outs like the access code--not sure I was able to just use a radom PIN--it was okay but didn't make sense to me." "In step 5 line 20 , I would feel more confident in the information provided, if the tax table was either included in the invitation or displayed online while filing. When I reviewed my tax return form online, the amounts and lettering were superimposed, my confidence in the system faltered some, but since the figures did calculate to the same amounts I continued." "after viewing the return, I was confused about how to close down the window showing the return, and I just took a chance at closing the window by clicking the x button. The return said I should use the controls on the bottom of the screen." "keep the program going...its great." "It took me two days to get the website to comeup and thirty minutes this morning. That is why the time listed above was so long. I almost gave up and mailed the paper return." "I was unable to view the return, but was required to check the box in order to file my return." "I am not sure if I clicked the direct deposit button... I was only given the option once and after signing my return, was not offered it again. Also-the PIN choice was not well described. secure. I expected you to provide a PIN to me. How secure is a signature when the user chooses 5 numbers out of the blue How do you know its me?" "why cant I file my federal tax return here too?" "I called the 800# that is on the ready file for help, the lady that assisted me was very kind and helpful. I wish that I would have written down her name to give you but unfortunately I didnt." "I THINK THAT THIS IS WONDERFUL AND CONVENIENT. THANK YOU." "The .pdf veiwing buttons did not work very well with Firefoxv.1.0PR. According to the instructions in the .pdf, it should have opened in its own window because it says to close the window once I veviewed my return. However, because it opened in the same window and did not include an in site back link, I had no choice but to use my browsers back button and resending post data after the final viewing which then counted as thee-file submission. Also,because the system uses a button to view the return, I did not even have the ability to rightclick and force it to open in a separate window." "Great program; don’t let this end." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "I really liked the tele-file method, but this is nearly as quick and provides a paper trail that is comforting.Thanks for allowing me to test drive the program. I would like to use it next year as well." "The Ready Return system made it so quick and easy to file my tax return that I felt a marked decrease in anxiety over the whole process. I 'd love to see this program implemented on a national level, too." "Don't change a THING. This WORKS!" "Thank you" "THANK YOU FOR THE INVITATION TO USE READY RETURN" "very convenient and quick-keep up the good work." "The ready return made it easier for me to file my Cal tax return" "Though I am very pleased with Easy Return, I chose to answer No on item1.a. because the section explaining how to sign the document by using the PIN was very confusing to me." "Ready Return does not work properly with common browsers on the Apple Macintosh; this must be remiedied. Many Californians use Apple computers. 2 After filing my return, I was not given any link or information to pay the amount I owe. Im now left confused; how do I pay What do I do Do I waste time trying to call and find out What I will probably do is just send in a paper 540 form and my check, which means that Ready Return saved me ZERO time." "Under question number 1 Ready Return, kept my personal information secure makes no sense as I cant tell if Ready Return kept my information secure or not." "Excellent Program." "I've read in the newspaper that some groups people object to this service, stating that the government shouldnt be determining how much money someone gets back. Im getting more money back with government doing my taxes than I have before with my taxpreparer doing it, so I dont agree with that objection. If this program is offered in the future please keep my name on the list." "very easy hope it is available in the future" "logged on to the web and had a hard time getting to ready return page, too much clutter, it should go directly to the ready return page. After that it was easy. Should make note on your final page to sign form LAST after entering direct deposit, I almost did the reverse." "This is an excellent website. I have worked with a number of municipalities across the state and have seen how bad some of them waste money on inefficient use of manpower. Seeing this website has given me hope that the state has some sense to it.This is a good investment for California. I see the potential saving to California in the tens of millions of dollars just by the saving of postage, paper, and manpower. It is about time California looked at ways to improve its bottom line." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "Thank you very much for the opportunity to file my taxes this way. I loved it." "Thank you very much. I loved Ready Return. It was easy, simple, and most importantly, FREE Would use it again next year, given the opportunity. I just wish Federal did it like this." "I do hope that the federal government catches on and some how links CA to their resources so that I can be a happy camper with the federal government as I am now with my state of California....Thanks California" "Loved the service" "This was easy, convenient, and free You cant do much better than that. Good job." "I was not given an opportunity to pay online. I have to go to another website to pay. I was given a dcn without payment options bug in the system. I liked it. It matched what I thought by doing it myself and seeing what was provided for me." "you need to clear up the PIN instructions. Thank You very happy took me minutes." "This process didn’t save me as I had already purchased the software.It would be great if the information could be provided earlier. That would eliminate having to make unnecessary purchases. Thank you for the opportunity to participate." "Thank you for this invitation, it was very helpful." "THANK YOU For once, our Government has somehting beneficial for everyone." "Getting my taxes done stresses me out but this made it a lot easier for me. I liked being able to do it my self instead of having someone else do it for me." "I found Tele File very easy. It was not clear that Telefile was not available and took time looking for it. If I had no computer then telefile would be the tool-it should still be offered." "An option to only correct name and or address should be provided up front so that an individual does not have to step through the paper return you provided. Some of the questions were alittle confusing and were not necessary since all had to do was change the address." "I like the phone one better, but this one is okay. The last part when they wanted a 5-digit pin was sort of confusing. I didn’t know if I had to make one up, or if it was in the forms somewhere." "you should have a close button on the tax form itself. It gets confusing and hard to determine which button closes the window and which are internet disconnect buttons." "Thank you for allowing me to participate in this pilot program" "This was very easy and convenient." "Though I was able to finish within minutes the 2nd time I had some problems over the weekend when I first started... meaning the site was not available. Not sure if there were some connection problems on your site but I was not able to Review and therefore could not complete the return at that time. Otherwise I really liked submitting my return this way, it is really easy and very convenient plus there are no extra costs involved. Thanks.” Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "I loved it, it should save both of us time and money." "If refunds will indeed be issued much faster and provided my return was received without any problems, I think IT’S A GREAT IDEA .P.S.IS THE SAME SERVICE AVAILABLE FOR FED TAX RETURNS I WONDER" "Thank you for your help. Have a great and positive day" "This made it easy to file. I only needed minor changes to my return such as the renters credit. I did have problems opening the PDF file to view my return. I am using Acrobat Reader7.0 and have shut off all my Norton security settings but this still did not work." "Information should be supplied about qualifying for Ready Returns vis-à-vis taxable interest income." "Thanks for this program. It is very quick and accurate I double-checked the numbers--they matched." "This was awesome. Everything was already pre-filled out for me. All I had to do was review it, add direct deposit for my refund, and sign submitit. I wish there was a similar pilot program for filing my Federal taxes as well. I am definitely satisfied and look forward to participating in this pilot program again next year." "I would like to file my federal return also, using this method." "Thank you for making filing my taxes so easy -one less stress on my mind" "It was fast easy and cheap I will do it again if I can." "Missed step13, nice to have a reminder of that option. Would have used the direct deposit." "This ready return worked well but I do prefer tele-file. It took me less time." "This e-file system should have a checklist of what needs to be done after I e-file my taxes. It did not tell me where I need to mail my check, who to make it payable to, what needed to be on the check, and if anything needed to accompany the check. I had to call for this information." "This is great. 15 min and I was done. Like we say in the Marines OOOOOrrrraahh!" "The Ready Return option is a wonderful idea and I personally hope to see it available for everyone." "The twenty minutes you allow isnt enough. My server went down twice during my preparation. Had to start over, better if I didn’t have to start over and just start from where I was." "Fast, easy, wish it was like this all the time" "I THINK THIS IS GREAT FOR SINGLE PEOPLE WITH NO WRITE- OFFS AND NO OTHER EARNED INCOME. IT CERTAINLY SAVED ME TIME AND THE WORRY OF IT BE INCORRECT. THANK YOU," "thank you very much" "Very innovative and friendly service provided by the Franchise Tax Board. Thanks for an appropriate use of taxpayers monies." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "I like this service. I liked how it was pre-filled out, free, and that I can schedule my payment for a future date, i.e. 4/15. There was one error on the final page that told me to save my DCN on Form 8453, but I only printed Form 8455. Anyhow, this is great Hope to see it again. No w only if the Federal Govt would offer this too." "Instructions were efficient and easy to understand. I was confused for a few moments with the Pin number that I had to create to submit my return. I tried to enter my access code. Then I reread the instructions and figured it out. Other than that, all was simple. Thanks." "The pilot project looks good" "please don’t get rid of theW-2 info once a year directly from the employer." "Website did not explain PIN for signature. The website should have explained that the PIN was a number of your choosing just prior to asking for this information." "I liked the e-file offer including me in your Pilot program. Thanks" "This was very neat. I was a bit worried at first when I got his in the mail, but when I realized that this letter to be involved in the Pilot program was from the state I got excited. I usually use [commercial software] to do my taxes, but this was a lot easier. All I had to do was double check the info and put in my account information for direct deposit. I loved it. Thanks for allowing me to participate in this program and I hope this continues for next years taxes." "I would like to use it again next year." "I wish Federal Taxes could have been prepared the same way...ReadyReturn rocks" "THIS PROGRAM WAS VERY EASY AND STRAIGHT FORWARD" "This was fast, easy and convenient. I also like the idea of not wasting paper. Great Job" "The letter in spanish and in english is a good idea. I do not need it in spanish but for those individuals out there I can see it to be important and thoughtful." "The tax return would NOT display correctly, an error came up both with IE and Mozilla, luckily I was mailed a printed version in the mail, numbers are over writing each other on the online form, not clear at all." "This survey took longer for me to fill out than Ready Return took to let me file. Great job especially for us poor single people. Thanks" "Please include me on your mailing list next year. How can I get Federal Invitation to-file” "I liked this way of filing very much, very convenient. I would not have bought the state software if I had been aware of it before recieving the letter. I hope the same method is available next year. I did have a problem viewing the pdf file containing my return. It insisted on opening in Photoshop which did not understand it. I would suggest checking that the content-type and content-disposition headers are set correctly." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "You mailed too many items regarding Efile. You do not say that it is with no charge I hope this is free because I did not account for any fee for using this." "wow! Great service. This took me 30 minutes and I was done. Thanks. " "I was totally confused with those whole system and had a hard time figuring this system out...Hopefully I did this correctly. Thanks, " "This was a very easy way to file. Thank you for the invitation. I hope I can do the same next year. These are the government services that make my life easier - Thanks again..." "pin number should state that you can use any 5 digit number." "This was AWESOME And, so easy… and it was FREE Thank you for inviting me to the pilot program Ill definitely look for this next year." "My only concern at this moment is how good is the security online." "This was a delightful surprise to receive Thank you. Anything to make life a wee-bit easier." "My browser would close the window whenever I would close the pdf of the return. I had to log back in about 3 times. Other than that, this was convenient and simple." "This is much better I hope you continue with this process." "KEEP GOING, YOU ARE GETTING THERE....JUST KEEP IT FREE!" "It seems odd to not have to mail my W-2, but I like the convenience. Thank you for the invitation." "I had difficulty getting to the website using the URL that was provided. Also found the instructions abit aborious. Instructions said to use back or return button at bottom of page. After reviewing my return in PDF format, there should have been instructions to close tha window. Need clear instructions on selecting the PIN without having to ask question." "Grrreat Job" "I wish I had received this in the mail earlier; I did my return on paper in January; I just hadnt filed it." "Great service and very use to use It would be good to have a save button when submitting direct deposit information, the back button makes you hesitate and wonder if the information was saved. Until you print the return, the einstructions are not clear as to the fact that this information will be added to the return.” "The interface should be improved to allow saving your progress rather than requiring you to restart the process if you cant finish in one sitting. Otherwise, very useful and straight forward.” "This was fairly simple. I thought I was going to use an interactive tax form. Since I already prepared my taxes, I could have adjusted the numbers directly to the 540 form. Mine was a simple return. I might be alittle apprehensive using this system if my return was more complex unless I was adjusting the numbers directly on the form." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "Love this service - too bad I moved out of state before it took off and became a regular thing. I loved Tele File too." "I had a very positive experience with Ready Return. I hope this eventually becomes a government service. Its fast, convenient, and takes a lot of anxiety away that is associated with tax." "The original wage amount was incorrect. Had to change online." "This process couldn’t be easier except: clarify the PIN signature. I spent a minute looking for the PIN on my invite. I had to click on the help icon to learn that I make up my own PIN. It should be stated right on the page." "When I went in to review my tax form and there was nothing at the bottom that tells you what to do next. I was nt real sure if I should just close out or not. When I did, I saw that it then said to continue etc, but for a moment I was not really sure." "ReadyReturn was great I hope you do it again next year. It was hassel free. I loved it. Thank you for including me in your pilot run." "Is there any way for 1099-INT information to automatically be sent and be included like the w-2 information was It would make this type of filing even easier but this may not be feasable. Thank you for the opportunity to file my State tax form via this method." "My fiancee was upset that she couldn’t file using this method, please expand the program" "I was in such a hurry to complete it… I didn’t supply the direct deposit info.… I guess a check will be in the mail… it was so nice to have it all filled out in advance… look forward to e-file again next year." "Thank you for the opportunity." "THANK YOU." "The program was very easy to use and extremely convenient, although my preference is to use an independent software program outside the government or file via mail. I think the reason I feel this way is mainly due t o the fact that this is a new program. However, it is a great option for filing, very simple and I would use it again." "When the it came time to e-file and the program asked me for my access code it did not take it because it asked for a five digit code and my access code is four--so I added a zero in front of it." "This is a great service Would suggest to BOLD that signature should be a NUMBER pin. I was trying to use characters… maybe others caught it, but that took me a little bit to figure out. Thank you." "I was a participant and the taxes were already prepared for me. Because of the fact that all I had was an address change, it took quite along time to do this and e-file because I had to re-do my taxes all over again. The software should automatically let you just change your address and re-print and file...” "I would have liked to receive my invitation letter sooner." "GREAT idea this was super easy and fast, now push the federal guys to let you file like this as well." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "Make e-file permanent Tax solution Wish the Federal Government does the same…" "I really enjoyed filing by Telefile and miss that option. Using ReadyReturn means you must have a computer and not everyone does. I also have not been receiving my Tax Record and Instructions booklet for the past 3 years. I miss getting that also. You get updated information that you wouldnt get elsewhere." "the directions were easy but I did have alittle trouble on some of it. I printed it once and thought that would take care of it but you have to print it twice so you can see your routing number included. Directions should say print twice." "I do not use a bank. Your instructions do not tell me how and when I will receive my refund in that case." "The site did not tell where my signature pin was, or how to get it. Other then that, the site was over all a great way to file." "Bravo this was simple and quick. Better then any indepent tax preparation site Ive used in the past." "Great experiece It was easier and faster than telefile." "Thank you for inviting me to participate in your pilot program. I hope that it is a success so that I can use it again next year." "Great. Easy, fast way to file income. Plus its free." "This was excellent as long as hackers can not get on to the website. Since I do not itemize, this was the easiest way for me to submit my tax form." "Now that tele file is no longer available, I prefer filing on-line. Thanks for the opportunity." "Nice to receive access code through mail. Nice to have option to receive access online. Was not aware of program until receiving ReadyReturn in the mail. ReadyReturn is a good option for filing tax. Thanks" "It was very easy to file my return. I wish I could do the same thing for next year." "Printing out there turn was problematic and caused me to be timed out. For easier printing, keep the form black and white." "Awesome.. I loved the Taxes already been made for me You should keep the pilot program alive Sooooooo easy, quick, efficient, and the best part is that its FREE It took me less then 2 minutes to just log into the website, sign my return, and e-file Nice job, the Feds should do the same." "Question 10 did not have enough options." "The numbers were on top of each other on my return in the computer. I do have Adobe 7.0 so believe that there is a bug somewhere in your system." "Please make sure that people realize they need to update the information on their return if they want to have their refund directly deposited to their account. Making sure they viewed their return does not really point that out. I was double checking the amounts on my return form. I forgot to revise that I wanted my refund directly deposited to my account. Now I have to wait for my check in the mail. But still, thank you for this opportunity." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • ”This was allot easier than tele-file. I love the fact that all my info is filled out for me on the return and all I have to do is accept it and I am done. Good job. Thank you." "thank you for the opportunity." "thank you" "This was the easiest time I have ever had filing a return. Thank you." "Thanks for inviting me to use the new system--should be well accepted by all who participates." "Im glad I was a part of this- it made things so easy." "ReadyReturn is the best thing to happen to state taxes since deductions. :- Filing this year was beyond easy and fast. Thank you for such a great program and I hope it will be available again next year. Thanks :" "thank you thank you sob,sob thank you" "Great Service" "PIN number was confusing. It was not clear that the number was something for the user to make up, rather than a specific number the user was already supposed to know." "My printer printed out the return but not the inserted figure fields on the return such as AGI amount, amount I owe etc...so I used the return you sent as my record along with the DCN number." "thank you this even easier than TeleFile" "Entering the 5 digit pin at the end was a little confusing. It should state to come up with your own 5 digit pin that way others wont scramble to locate it somewhere in the paperwork. Thats what I did and just came to the conclusion that I had to make one up. That was fine but, it should state to make up your own 5 digit pin and remember it somewhere." "The some of the print on my return was overlapping. Im hopeful this will not affect my return" "cool" "My browser didnt have the exact wording listed in the instructions, so I had to choose to believe that I have sufficient security for this system in order to use it. Hope I didnt make a big mistake Im not computer savvy..." "Thanks for making it really easy and painless this year" "more of the data should already be populated. i.e. ssn,employers id , ect. It would save more time and make it more pleasurable." "This is a wonderful program that should be made available always. The only confusing point was the 5-digit PIN to sign the return. It should be made more clear that the PIN is just a random number and not a number that was sent to us. Also, the paper that was mailed to us with our access code should have spaces marked for writing down our DCN and PIN as a reminder to keep the information." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • ”Since I already had a copy mailed to me with the invitation, I didnt print a copy but was directed back to print a copy before I could continue." "Great job" "This is a fabulous service" "this system is the best thing to come alone since sliced bread i lover it" "It is not clear how to come about finding your PIN Do you make up one or is it somewhere on the form and you just cant find it." "Was a little hard to find where I needed to go at first but, once I did it was easy.Thanks " "This is a great program please continue it" "Ok - FIRST This 500-character limited space should be acknowledged Now I have to rewrite this all: It was unclear to me what the PIN was. I had to go back to the FAQs page, then look it up. Info. NEXT to the red asterisks would have been helpful - or a "What is this" underlined next to important entries to take us immediately to another window with that particular info. ReadyReturn is a 540 formI use 540 EZ - I was going to change the entries - luckliy I saw the difference." "it is about time we eliminate paper and streamline the government. Next lets fix workmans compensation." "To have the form already prepared by you was a big help. Thank you." "awsome" "It was a nice surprise to receive the invitation. Id definitely use that again. Thank you" "If you are receiving a refund button for electronic transfer into your bank account should be before electronic signature." "Choosing a 5 digit pin seemed pointless and confusing since there was little explanation about how it would be used later." "It will be nice to also receive an invitation to do my federal taxes." "ReadyReturn was GREAT It was incredibly convenient and was faster than [other programs]. Thank you for including me in your pilot program" "pin number was a little confusing" "I would like to do this again for the future tax returns." "Thank you This was great" "Thanks" "I like having calculations done for me." "Great idea Thank you" "You scored a homerun with this latest upgrade in e-filing. It saved me a lot of time and headache, thank you" Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "The question mark symbols linked to "page not found" messages; that should be fixed Also, it was really hard to tell if my browser was secure enough. More detailed information there is definitely needed, more browsers should be included, and the links to download "super secure" software should lead to the actual product, not to the general website of the browser I had no idea where to go from where you guys sent me. These two issues were a big problem, but otherwise the system worked really well and I appreciated being able to file this way" "this was great, thanks for selecting me" "I had the preprinted form, so no need to print even though asked to do so; and it was confusing to figure out how to close the page to get back to Sign and Submit, please add a Close or Back button, hitting the X at upper right is scary. E-file is fine now that telefile is not available." "Please continue with this pilot program. Its very helpful in saving me time and energy...both are valuable to me." "Excellent idea. Solid-looking implementation. Im glad to see compatibility with non-internet explorer web browsers." "Great idea, big time saver. Takes the guess work out. I would be concerned that people would miss out on deductions using this method without exploring other options." "Thank you letting me fill on e-mail i will love to do this way every year it was helpful and less stresssful" "Great System" "Thank you for this easy to use method of preparing and filing my State tax return" "THE INFO BUTTONS DID NOT WORK. TRIED TO FIND OUT WHAT A PIN WAS WHERE DO YOU GET IT, DO YOU JUST MAKE ONE UP NO EXPLANATION." "The only thing remotely confusing was the PIN number but when I clicked on the help question mark button I got the info I needed to submit the form." "Why was telefile discarded" "This was really great When I received the notice of the pilot in the mail I was excited becuase I was dreading filing my State taxes since I had not received a notice to file them by Telefile. This was painless and would love for this process to continue" "Contrary to your mailing about a month ago, I still needed to call in for CSNs for my wife and I. Also, it would help if you gave examples concerning creating the PINs for the electronic signatures. Also, the request for explanation boxes did NOT work. This is not good Otherwise, the experience was a good one without major problems. Thank you." "I think that this is a wonderful service. The only thing that would make it better is if people are able to make changes to their tax return and be able to submit them online, without sending it through the mail. It would be good for people who have other incomes. Thank you CA." Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • "Thanks for the invitation This method of e-filing was absolutely painless and so fast It took me less than ten minutes - but I put 10 minutes in the response box because I was interrupted by a phone call. Thanks and tell my dear "Governator" thanks too" "It would be nice to feed Federal Return data [from commercial software] into the California software." "what was my PIN, at the end it wanted my PIN a 5 digit number, I only have a 4 digit access code, so I made up a number and it acepted it. Is this what you are suposed to do Do I need to remember my PIN" "I LIKED THE PROCESS, ONLY CONFUSING PART WAS DID I PRINT WHILE STILL IN THE ADOBE WINDOW. GREAT JOB" "Good job. Thanks for your efforts." "I LIKED THE PROCESS, ONLY CONFUSING PART WAS DID I PRINT WHILE STILL IN THE ADOBE WINDOW. GREAT JOB" "This was so easy I wish the federal returns were this simple...." "Provide easy access to online information regarding tax benefits, credits, incentives, and other money-saving options when using ReadyReturn to file taxes." "I wish I could of had the invention for the pilot sooner than spending money on an outside source" "I would love to use this service again now that telefile is gone." "Now you dont have to sweat in out over your paperwork Thanks tons" "I had a change to make and wouldve preferred entering the change in the pre-prepared form and theh have it compute the rest or prompt for extra into pertaining to that one change. Instead I had to wade through all the pages for the whole return." "This is the greatest ever in my experience.The federal filing should be done the same way.Thank you. Best Regards" "ReadyReturn was fast and easy--thanks" "help button didnt work on direct deposit, so I had not forgo that option. wasnt sure what my routing number was. otherwise very convienent. thanks." "The enter pin number and submit button were problems. I had to keep entering the number and had viewed the form 3-4 times before I was able to complete the submit portion." "When it came to the PIN instructions, it was not clear that I was to make up my own number. I tried the help icon and it wasnt working." "While this was a fairly handy function, I believe it would be even easier if the person needing changes could work with a directly interactive tax form. For example: All I needed to do was add interest that I received for the year. For me, it would have been much simpler to type in the interest on the PDF review form and have it automatically recalculate than it was to go through the 20 question scenario. Hopefully you can make this improvement in the future." "Wonderful program. It made doing taxes actually enjoyable. Thanks" Direct Quotes from the ReadyReturn Pilot • • • • • • "The five-digit pin was confusing. Logged out because I thought I hadnt registered or properly received the pin." "This was Awesome" "LINKS TO THE HELP OR THE QUESTION MARK WAS UNAVAILABLE SO I WASN'T SURE ON SOME INTEREST EARNED SO I INCLUDED TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE." "I had to call the 1 800 number for a little help in making a change but the service rep was very good at addressing my needs." "Ive e-filed my last return and that was easy, since I didnt make that much, but this return I was considering not filing because it was even less than before, but since I received the invitation to the pilot program, I decided to just do it that way... Much more convienient and I figured might as well so I dont in trouble. I was very happy with just e-filing, but ReadyReturn is much faster and better... Thanks... " "I like this new program, I hope its around next year and I can use it. Thanks"