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Regardless of the flaws associated with FairTax and other tax code simplification plans, there's one thing we should all be able to agree on: Something needs to be changed.

Nina Olson, the IRS' national taxpayer advocate, estimates that the preparation of IRS Form 1040 takes up 3.6 billion hours per year -- 26 hours and 40 minutes per person. In all, tax preparation takes up about 7.6 billion work hours per years.

This is time that doesn't create anything or enrich lives. Companies like H&R Block have amassed multi-billion dollar market caps by taking advantage of the complexity of the tax code and the fact that many people need help navigating the byzantine world created by the IRS. Troublingly, H&R Block's business has proven to be recession-proof, meaning that as incomes decline, tax preparation fees take up an ever-larger percentage of our time and income.

Maybe tax cuts will help stimulate the economy and maybe they won't: But President-elect Obama must do something to simplify the mess that is the IRS. Otherwise, look for the tax-preparation business to continue to be a growth industry.

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TurboTax Articles

Are You Exempt From Health Care Coverage?

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is an individual mandate that requires all eligible Americans to have some form of basic health coverage by 2014. Those without insurance will receive a penalty when they file their tax returns ? that is, unless they have an exemption. TurboTax's Exemption Check can help you find out whether or not you qualify for an exemption.

Essential Tax Forms for the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, affects how millions of Americans will prepare their taxes in the new year. The law now includes penalties for all who haven?t obtained health insurance -- and those penalties are expected to be paid at tax time. The ACA also provides tax credits to help people pay for insurance, and you can claim those credits when you file your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has introduced a number of tax forms to accommodate the ACA.

Mortgage Refinance Tax Deductions

When refinancing a mortgage to get a lower interest rate or obtain more favorable loan terms, you're really just taking out a new loan and using the money to pay off your existing home loan. In general, the same tax deductions are available when you're refinancing a mortgage as when you're taking out a mortgage to buy a home.

How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have health insurance that meets a government standard known as "minimum essential coverage," or MEC. Whether your insurance qualifies as MEC depends not on the plan itself, but on how you obtained your coverage.

Rental Property Deductions You Can Take at Tax Time

Rental property often offers larger deductions and tax benefits than most investments. Many of these are overlooked by landlords at tax time. This can make a difference in making a profit or losing money on your real estate venture. If you own a rental property, the IRS allows you to deduct expenses you pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the property, conserving and managing the property, and other expenses deemed necessary and associated with property rental.

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