Beleaguered tax filers deserve a break


THE FEDERAL TAX CODE is 4 million words long, and Congress has made an average of more than one change every day for the last decade.

Citizens and businesses spend about $170 billion and 6 billion hours annually to comply, often hiring accountants and lawyers or buying computer software to fill in all their forms.

Seemingly everyone - even the Internal Revenue Service, whose ombudsman compiled all of the figures above - has argued for an overhaul. The tax code needs to be vastly simplified and shortened. And many if not most of the rules, deductions, credits, exclusions and loopholes should go away.

This should be the year for action, so add one last task to your to-do list for the coming week:

Call, email or write the president and your U.S. senators and representative. Tell them you’ve had enough. Tell them the code is so complicated it can’t possibly be fair for honest people and businesses.

Wisconsin’s congressional delegation should be leading the fight.

It’s gotten so bad that tax subsidies for the current fiscal year are expected to total $1.1 trillion, which is nearly as much as the $1.36 trillion the IRS expects to collect in individual income taxes, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

In other words, the tax code hands out tax breaks worth nearly as much as the revenue it brings in from individuals. And if all of those exceptions were closed, tax rates could fall by nearly half with the government still taking in the same amount of money.

President Barack Obama has professed support for a major overhaul. So have members of both major political parties in Congress.

So let’s get it done.

Congress should require the IRS to start over from scratch. The morass of regulation and giveaways has badly undermined public confidence in tax fairness. Throw everything out and bring back only those subsidies that can demonstrate clear contribution to the public good. Any exclusion, exemption, deduction or credit should have to win a separate vote on its own merits.

Set aside the partisan arguments over whether income taxes need to go up, down or stay the same. Regardless of those decisions, the code is far too complicated and needs to be dramatically reined in.

When Congress last enacted significant reform in 1986, the legislation proceeded on a revenue-neutral basis. That way, at least on average, taxpayers know their financial burden won’t rise.

Yet the elaborate burden of all those forms and figures should be lifted.

Most taxpayers are willing to make a fair contribution to the federal government without complaint. But the headaches, lost time and additional expense of complying with such a bewildering code are unacceptable. — Wisconsin State Journal, April 14

At issue:
Income tax code
Bottom line:
Simplify it

Most recent cover pages:

Copyright 2009-2019 The Plymouth Review, All Rights Reserved

Contact Information

113 E. Mill St., Plymouth WI 53073
Local: 920-893-6411 Toll Free: 1-877-467-6591
Fax: 920-893-5505

Sheboygan County Economic Development