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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Change from within?

It must be meaningful when even the Internal Revenue Service's national taxpayer advocate says the tax code is too complicated. She offers six core principles to guide reform efforts:

First, the tax system should not be so complex as to create traps for the unwary. Second, the tax laws should be simple enough so that most taxpayers can prepare their own returns and compute their tax liabilities on a single form, and simple enough so that IRS telephone assistors can accurately answer taxpayers' questions. Third, the tax laws should anticipate the largest areas of noncompliance and minimize the opportunities for such noncompliance. Fourth, the tax laws should provide some choices, but not too many, since choices are confusing and can lead to taxpayer error. Fifth, where the tax laws provide for refundable credits, they should be designed in a way that is minimally burdensome both for the taxpayers claiming the credits and for the IRS in administering them. And last, the tax system should incorporate a periodic review of the tax code -- a sanity check to guard against complexity creep.

The best and most effective reform of all would be just to go to a flat tax. The form could fit on a post card, and filers could do their own taxes in about 15 minutes. But that's probably too simple for someone who gets her paycheck from the IRS.


Michael B-P
Sat, 04/11/2009 - 12:12pm

A flat tax is an excellent idea from a simplification standpoint. But without supplementary measures it also signifies abandonment of progressive taxation as a basic principle of the system. Recgonizing the onerous complexity of the existing code it is nevertheless essential, especially since first principles in this regard are not often publicly debated, that the first step toward presenting the flat tax as a viable alternative taxation method be to obtain clarity regarding the issue of progressive taxation.

tim zank
Sat, 04/11/2009 - 2:25pm

A flat tax makes the most sense for everyone, therefore we'll never see it.

Andrew Jarosh
Sat, 04/11/2009 - 6:02pm

Hell, I'll support a flat tax for everybody to level the playing field if we also do away with the tax deduction for home mortgage interest in the spirit of fairness as well.
And don't get me started on why we aren't taxing churches! Again, to be fair to all.

Bob G.
Mon, 04/13/2009 - 9:43am

As a former (sworn in) Treas. Dept "employee", I've always found it disgusting that people get taxed many times over, while others manage to create newer, better loopholes to drive their HUMMERS through...with relative impunity.

It's certainly not FAIR ALL AROUND...not by a longshot!

You work your ass off...you get a check, and THAT is taxed.
SO, you put some money in the bank...and it's taxed THERE (due to interest).
Finally, you have to buy FOOD, GAS, or whatever...and all THAT crap is TAXED...AGAIN.
Somehow, that just doesn't seem right...
Never did...never will.

Hey, but I only WORKED for them..it didn't mean I blindly followed their "ideas" for the masses, not that they EVER listened to any of "our" ideas.