PolitiFact: File taxes on ‘one card?’ Nope

If you are struggling to finish and file your taxes right now, President Donald Trump’s promise of a much simpler form probably sounds like a godsend.

But Trump’s assurance is dubious.

There isn’t an option today for filing taxes on a “card” — and there’s nothing in the new law that would create one.

The idea for this popped up in November. House Republicans touted their plan as one that could be accommodated by a postcard-size form. The president liked the idea so much that he held one up and kissed it for the cameras when meeting with lawmakers at the White House.

In the end, the bill didn’t require this.

There is already a pretty easy way to file your tax returns, the 1040EZ form, just one page to fill out. The 1040EZ is also popular. According to IRS statistics for the 2015 tax year, 23.3 million tax filers used the 1040EZ. That’s about one of every six filers.

Could the number of people using the 1040EZ increase in 2019 due to the tax bill’s passage?

When we checked with the White House, they told us Trump was referring to increases in the standard deduction and the curtailment of the alternative minimum tax for many taxpayers, results that should simplify filings for many Americans.

Before the new law took effect, about 70 percent of filers used the standard deduction, said John Buhl, a spokesman for the Tax Foundation.

“With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in place, we estimate that could increase to about 90 percent of filers,” he said. “Using the standard deduction rather than itemizing certainly makes filing taxes a simpler process.”

However, Buhl added, “the basic forms and process for submitting a return either with the standard deduction or with itemized deductions will not change much. So we aren’t at the point of just needing a postcard.”

Meanwhile, some filers could actually see greater complexity than in the past, Buhl said. “There are new pass-through business-deduction rules looming that could provide an additional tax cut for some, but likely make their filings more complex,” he said.

Our ruling

Trump said, “This will be the last time — April — that you’re going to (fill out) that old-fashioned, big, lots of pages, complicated tax form. Because next April you’re going to, in many cases, (file) one page, one card. It’s going to be very, very different. Very, very different.”

There is no new card- or postcard-filing option in the pipeline due to the law passed last December. As it happens, simpler filing options already exist and are widely used — but tax experts do not expect a surge in their use as a result of the tax bill in April 2019.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

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