The other day, I heard General Electric had set some kind of record for their 2005 federal tax return. I did some digging, and found this story.
The angle of the story is laudatory; it celebrates the single largest E-File of a tax return.
While they are thrilled, I am horrified.
GE’s tax return was 237MB in size.
I file my taxes online, too. The PDF usually runs about 35K. By my calculations, GE’s tax return was over 6,700 times larger than mine.
Had it been printed out, it would have been about 24,000 pages.
Next time you’re in a Staples, look at a case of paper. That’s a lot. Each holds 5,000 sheets of paper, and they weigh about 40-50 pounds. GE’s tax return — JUST the return — would have consumed FIVE of those. That’s roughly my weight in dead trees.
A good mid-range digital copier/printer spits out about 100 pages a minute. Just to print out that return would have taken FOUR HOURS — and that’s without taking time to change paper and toner, clear jams, and unload the output trays. After checking with someone in the business, they would want at least 12 hours to generate a single copy, and would prefer 24.
How much time and money was spent on preparing and checking this return? How many billable hours were spent by lawyers, accountants, and tax experts?
I know GE is a huge, multinational corporation, but the sheer magnitude of their tax return screams to me how messed-up our tax system is.
When something is this broken, there really is no choice to to dump the whole thing and start fresh.