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The new Form 1040 reviews are in and they're not good

Crumpled tax return form

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised that this week we'd see the new, shorter and closer-to-a-postcard Form 1040.

Well, the week's almost over and we're still waiting. 

However, I'm sure Mnuchin will keep his word and sometime today officially debut the new tax return. My faith is not so much in the Administration's top money man, as it is on the fact that I'll be out of my office and offline most of the day due to some personal business I can't reschedule. I'm good at tax timing like that.

At least the proposed changes already have leaked.

First came The New York Times' sneak peek, which I blogged about on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal also got an early copy.

And the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants' Journal of Accountancy looked at the various new schedules that will be required to be filed with the new, shorter Form 1040.

Not impressed: Skeptics, of which I'm one, think that this rejiggering of the 1040, which reportedly will be the only return — adios 1040A and 1040EZ — for all filers under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes, is purely political.

Republican tax writers, after all, have been touting a postcard-sized tax return for years. Now, they contend, with the new tax law, this is the smaller form that will make filing easier.

Some tax folks, however, are not buying that. And they took to social media, specifically Twitter, to share their concerns about the coming changes.

Some of the notable, and negative, social media reviews include:

Virtually invisible forms via software: Of course, for most filers the changes will not be noticeable.

Why? Because, as the Tax Policy Center's Len Burman notes, around 92 percent of us use tax software. The most popular computer tax programs walk us through our annual tax filing without showing us the actual forms.

Unless we print our electronically completed and filed returns, we don't ever see the documents we send to the Internal Revenue Service.

Another sizable sector of filers turns its taxes over to paid tax preparers, most of whom also use professional versions of tax software to complete and e-file the returns. So again, we taxpayers really don't deal with old-school paper tax forms.

So maybe all us tax geeks are obsessing unnecessarily over the coming Form 1040 changes.

Or maybe the proposed tax return revision really is a classic case of politicians breaking something they desperately wanted to fix.

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I have been doing my own taxes since 1972 so I thought I could manage the new 1040 without messing up. Silly me. Although the new 1040 is basically the same as before, the fact that it has been exploded into 7 pieces, makes it all the easier to forget an attachment, which is exactly what I just did (having to file a 1040X to amend myself). Specifically, I forgot to include the new Schedule 5 where one now reports (redundantly all over again) what one has pre-paid to the IRS. Now you have to back up one claim of what you have already paid the IRS with an entirely separate form repeating what it was you already paid the IRS. Redundancy is not intuitive; I expect the IRS staff will be extremely busy handling all the 1040x's now headed their way. When some folks promised to put a simpler 1040 on a postcard they didn't mention that it was one of those accordion postcards that includes all the monuments and a pic of the cherry blossoms to boot.

Michael Murray

The new tax forms are yet another sick joke from an incompetent administration. Form 2 has 10 lines: 7 "Reserved", 2 content, and 1 add the 2. An eighth of a sheet of paper in the grand effort to shrink the form by moving the content. What a shameful waste.

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