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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

What is Form 1095-B: Health Coverage

Form 1095-B is a health insurance tax form which reports the type of coverage you have, dependents covered by your insurance policy, and the period of coverage for the prior year. This form is used to verify on your tax return that you and your dependents have at least minimum qualifying health insurance coverage. If you had a break in health care coverage for the tax year, you may have to pay an individual shared responsibility payment, also known as a tax penalty.

What is Form 1095-A: Health Insurance Marketplace Statement

If you bought health insurance through one of the Health Care Exchanges, also known as Marketplaces, you will receive a Form 1095-A which provides information about your insurance policy, your premiums (the cost you pay for insurance) and the people in your household covered by the policy.

What Are the Tax Penalties for Smokers?

This requirement for minimum essential coverage (MEC) under the Affordable Care Act applies to smokers and nonsmokers alike. If you're not covered by an employer's health plan and are a smoker, you can go to the health care marketplace to find MEC. If you're still unable to comply, you may have a penalty applied.

Tax Planning for Beginners

Your tax refund is based on how much tax you pay in excess of the tax you owe. Basic tax planning strategies aimed at reducing the amount of your taxable income may increase the gap and thus your refund. In some cases, these strategies benefit you in other ways, offsetting future costs for health care or providing for retirement. Though some aspects of tax law can be complicated, even a beginner can focus on taxable income reduction.

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Survival Guide For ALEs

A key feature of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is the way in which responsibility for affordable health care coverage is shared between stakeholders. Companies that employ 50 or more people may be considered "applicable large employers" or ALEs under the Affordable Care Act. ALEs have specific provisions when it comes to providing health insurance, and these provisions are being phased in from larger to smaller companies over time. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notes that less than 5% of employers are considered ALEs.

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