The New Large-Font IRS Form 1040-SR

The IRS rolled out a new tax form this filing season called the 1040-SR. It’s basically a simplified, large-font 1040 form similar to the 1040-EZ. I know the IRS means well, but was this really necessary? There are a number of restrictions on who is permitted to actually use this form; and of those that are, it is questionable just how many will want to. If you itemize your deductions, you may not use this form. If you earn over $100k, presumably you should be able to afford to hire a tax professional to file your taxes, and you may not use this form. If you have investment income or income from a business, you may not use the new 1040 form. And if you are under 65 years old, regardless of how bad your eyesight is, you may not use this form. Side note: I know many people under 65 who would benefit from a 1040-SR, one of them being the referee at my son’s basketball game the other day.

Furthermore, the large font only helps if you’re actually filling out the form by hand with a pen. These days a vast majority of taxpayers file electronically and even pay someone else to do it. I suppose if there are any traditionalists left who fill out tax forms by hand, they probably fall in that 65+ group. But even that group may derive only a small benefit from the new form if they use any of the lettered schedules because none of the tax schedules and attachments have been updated with larger fonts. The IRS even admitted that the group of taxpayers who will benefit the most from Form 1040-SR makes up less than 10% of all tax filers.

It’s always easier (and more fun) to poke holes in IRS programs and the way they administer the tax code than it is to identify what they’re doing right. It just seems like they’re often more concerned with the minutia and less relevant details. It’s the same brand of thinking that results in the auditing of small business owners, sometimes year after year, while major corporations often avoid taxes altogether. Age 65 is not that old anymore. Seniors are resourceful; they wear glasses, they use computers, and they pay younger eyes to do what they no longer can. My thinking about taxes won’t change when I’m 65; I guarantee I’ll care way more about the size of my tax obligation than I will about the size of the font on my 1040.

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