The month of April can be an exciting time for many South Dakotans. Spring sports are in full swing and the weather typically warms, although we all know that South Dakota hasn’t been too lucky this year. April also means that individuals, families and businesses across the state are filing taxes.

April 15th, the tax deadline, has come and gone. It takes the average taxpayer approximately 13 hours to prepare to pay taxes and nine of out of every ten taxpayers are forced to hire a professional or buy software just to prepare their taxes.

According to the Tax Foundation, 100 percent of the money American workers earn from January 1st to April 18th, a total of 108 days, will go to pay federal, state and local taxes in 2013. “Tax Freedom Day,” the day on which Americans will start working for anything besides taxes, falls on April 18th. In contrast, Tax Freedom Day in 1900 was January 22nd – nearly three months earlier.

This is a troubling trend for too many Americans. Taxpayers are working longer to pay their taxes and finding it increasingly difficult to comply with the tax code. It is time to take meaningful action to simplify our current tax system and create a process that is fairer to American taxpayers. This is why I was proud to recently cosponsor legislation that is a step in the right direction.

The Seniors’ Tax Simplification Act of 2013 would replace current tax filing procedures that create unnecessary paperwork for senior citizens with one simple form. This bill would create a new 1040SR form, much like the 1040EZ, to allow for easier filing when including income from Social Security benefits, investments, retirement plans, annuities and capital gains and interest.

I think of people like my grandma, Arlys, and other seniors who have worked for decades and shouldn’t have to spend hours in front of a computer or money on a tax service for a process that can feasibly be boiled down to a single form. More often than not, the federal government has a tendency to make life more complicated for families, but this is one way we can offer just a little bit of reprieve to seniors during tax season.

While I continue to support comprehensive tax reform which would make it easier for all taxpayers, this common-sense legislation for our seniors is a good place to start.

Our tax system is broken and too complicated. It represents a continuation of the tax-and-spend policies from Washington that are not the answer. A simpler tax system will put our country back on a path to create jobs and put more cash back into the pockets of hardworking South Dakotans.

I also want South Dakotans to know of a recent announcement from the Internal Revenue Service. Due to widespread power outages from the recent winter storms, the IRS will be providing penalty relief to anyone who was unable to file their taxes on time due to these storms. If you receive a penalty notice in the mail, please contact the IRS or my office and we would be glad to assist. Contact information for my offices is listed below:

Sioux Falls: 605-275-2868 / Watertown: 605-878-2868 / Aberdeen: 605-262-2862 / Rapid City: 605-791-4673 / Washington, D.C.: 202-225-2801 / Toll-Free: 1-855-225-2801

Do you want to sign up for my E-Newsletter?