Biden To Make It Easier To Pay Taxes, Student Loans

The White House says new tools and processes will improve service

A line of patients waiting for help at a medical office front desk
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President Joe Biden pledged Monday to make it easier for us to deal with the federal government, directing 17 agencies to improve how we will enroll for benefits, pay student loans, and contact the IRS.

An executive order from Biden commits to adding new processes and online tools to improve 36 different “customer experiences” across the federal agencies, the White House said in a release. The USA.gov website also will be revamped as a portal where people will be able to access, with just a few clicks of a mouse, all government benefits, services, and programs, without having to navigate duplicate and outdated federal websites.

The order is a continuation of the President’s Management Agenda Vision, announced last month, to deliver better federal services. The White House said it should help alleviate frustrations people have when dealing with the government. 

“Too often, people have to navigate a tangled web of Government websites, offices, and phone numbers to access the services they depend on,” the White House said.

This past year, for example, the IRS was overwhelmed with calls about pandemic-related tax issues. In April, the Taxpayer Advocate said the IRS had only answered about 2% of its 75 million calls about form 1040. With Biden’s executive order, though, consumers might expect some improvement. Biden plans to give filers the option to schedule customer support callbacks so they don’t have to wait on hold. They’ll also get new online tools to pay taxes, assess their eligibility for tax credits, and have more e-filing options. 

People also will be able to change their addresses, names, and other personal information with the federal or state entities they choose without having to visit a physical office.

The White House said other promised improvements for specific groups include:

  • Retirees will be able to claim benefits and follow their application status online, while Medicare recipients will have access to better online tools to help them find the right care and lower-priced drug options.
  • Students will have a new one-stop portal at StudentAid.gov, where they can apply for, manage, and repay their loans as well as get connected to other benefits they may be eligible for. 
  • Travelers will be able to renew passports securely online and check in more quickly using new technologies like computers with advanced screening features. 
  • There will be more automated access to more women, children, and infants’ health information, such as electronic prenatal, birth, and postpartum health records, and those eligible for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children will have the opportunity to grocery shop online.
  • Veterans, their beneficiaries, caregivers, or other representatives will be able to use Login.gov accounts to access VA.gov to see and manage benefits and health information in one place.
  • Low-income families will be able to enroll more easily for federal benefits and recertify their income status across programs using an automatic process that certifies income-eligible individuals without extra paperwork. 
  • Small business owners and farmers will be able to apply more quickly and easily for loans and certifications online.
  • Disaster survivors will be able to get help more readily and have more options to submit supporting documentation.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Medora at medoralee@thebalance.com.

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