Tax Day is less than two weeks away. This year the IRS (The US Tax Agency) went out of their way to make sure I am doing things right: months ago they sent me a thick envelope with all the forms they thought I would need to use, including:
- form 1040-ES/V – payment vouchers for estimated taxes
- instructions to the above forms (several pages)
- estimated tax calculation worksheets
- 4 envelopes to mail in my quarterly estimated taxes
How nice of the IRS, they really take good care of me, providing all I need to be a disciplined taxpayers. And how do they know I will need to make estimated payments in 2009? That’s easy: from my 2008 tax return.
And therein lies the rub. They know a lot more about me… like the fact that the tax return I filed last year was all electronic, just like it was for many years I can remember. The fact that all my tax payments last year ( and previous years) were made through EFTPS, the US Goverment’s own electronic payment site.
So WTF is the IRS doing sending me paper forms when the very profile that alerted them to do so also reveals I am an all-electronic taxpayer?
Don’t for a minute think it’s the IRS only. My parents receive occasional correspondence from the California Department of Health – in 12 (!) copies, in the following languages: English, Spanish, Armenian, Russian, Cambodian,Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Laotian, Tagalog, Hmong, Vietnamese.
And it’s not Government only. My bank – the Citi that never sleeps, except when it becomes a penny stock – knows I am an all-electronic customer, so WTF am I receiving their paper junk-mail regularly? Offers for the very same credit cards they should know I already have from them?
This week’s Web 2.0 Expo had an entire track on Government 2.0. We’re seeing incentives pop up to go green everywhere, from the local utility company to the Government. How in the middle of all these initiatives are we unable to stop the most obvious waste, mailing millions of tons of paper every year?