According to the Post-Gazette, federal tax returns filed by internet are processed in one day instead of 4 weeks. Talk about efficient. You can file your state taxes by internet or even by phone (if your return is easy). Yet, here in Pittsburgh, the city is in the taxes stone age. We can submit questions to mayoral debates by youtube and coming soon, we'll be watching city council meetings on the web, but to file our taxes and make estimated payments, we're limited to paper filing. Personally, I filed my state and federal taxes a month ago (before I left for Peru) and I got nearly instant notification that my returns were processed. I'm still waiting for a potential response from the city of Pittsburgh. I mailed the check and many forms and crossed my fingers.
With all the talk about efficiency and modernization in this city, how about an online filing of city taxes? I know all the information makes its way into a computer eventually (or should). Let's cut out the middle man who has to type it all in. The federal government has realized the cost savings of electronic filing and we should, too. "... e-filing also helps to hold down government costs. It costs the IRS $2.80 to process a paper return vs. 35 cents to process an electronic return." That ends up to being less than the cost of the stamp you'd use to mail in your return. Assuming the costs are similar and our more than 300,000 residents file taxes each year, then that works out to a potential yearly savings of $735,000 (300,000 times $2.45) . Even if only half of city residents file taxes, I could write the software for a lot less than that and give it away for free. I'm waiting for the day that consulting job pops up on the city of Pittsburgh's website, but I won't be holding my breath.
On the Spot
14 hours ago