Internal Revenue Service:

Opportunities to Reduce Taxpayer Burden Through Return-Free Filing

GGD-92-88BR: Published: May 8, 1992. Publicly Released: May 8, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) potential advantages and disadvantages of a tax return-free filing system; and (2) the feasibility of a return-free filing system that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) envisioned in a 1987 report.

GAO found that: (1) the IRS system would relieve millions of individual taxpayers of the burden of preparing and filing their own returns; (2) the IRS return-free system could be redesigned to use new technologies and be more cost-effective and feasible, but taxpayer resistance and the cost-effectiveness of other filling alternatives could make this an unattractive alternative; (3) IRS is using available technology to provide various filing alternatives, but they all continue to require that taxpayers prepare and submit paper documents and that IRS send out refunds and bills; (4) many foreign countries use a version of return-free filing called final withholding in which an employee's withholding becomes the tax; and (5) if the United States adopted the withholding system it could significantly reduce the number of individual returns and reduce costs to IRS.

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