New US 1040 Tax Form Simpler, Now Size of Post Card

(Large stack of papers/Shutterstock)

The Trump administration is promising Americans a less complicated tax season next year thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law late last year.

According to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a new, smaller tax form is set to be unveiled in coming days.

“Next week we will be unveiling the new 1040 and it will be a postcard as we promised,” he said during an event on Wednesday celebrating the six-month anniversary of the bill’s passage.

Mnuchin promised that hardworking taxpayers “won’t have to spend nearly as much time” filling out their tax-related paperwork.

Several high-ranking Republicans and members of the administration cited postcard-sized tax forms as a central selling point for the passage of tax reform.

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First daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump predicted in December that the “vast majority” of Americans will complete their taxes “on a single postcard.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan made a similar promise.

“We’re making it so simple that almost nine out of 10 taxpayers can do their taxes on a form like a postcard,” he said.

President Donald Trump himself described a truncated tax form as one result of the new law, calling the new document “a single, little, beautiful sheet of paper.”

Those promises were almost immediately met with skepticism by a number of critics who analyzed the likely real-world impact of the tax law’s reforms.

Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, penned an Op-Ed for Forbes in which he challenged the notion that the new forms would be as simplified as some have suggested.

According to his analysis, only five or six of 98 lines and boxes currently included on the IRS Form 1040 would be eliminated under the new tax law — and at least one new item would likely need to be added.

“That would make for a really big postcard (or really tiny type),” he wrote.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Sr. Vice President Marc Goldwein agreed that the new law does not do enough to simplify a complex tax code.

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“The whole purpose of tax reform is to eliminate tax breaks to simplify the tax code and reduce rates,” he said. “But from what I can see, they only repeal one significant tax break, and very few if any tiny ones.”

Several Twitter accounts also expressed incredulity ahead of next week’s promised reveal.

As a candidate, Trump discussed simplifying the tax code and in one 2015 interview said it would be his “dream” to “put H&R Block right out of business.”

While Republicans continue to promise simplicity next year, the tax preparation industry appears secure for now. The founder of one California accounting firm said she saw a noticeable uptick in clients following the passage of the new tax bill.

“It’s really confusing,” she said. “It’s not simplified in any stretch of the imagination.”