Sundays for me have become “politics day”. From 10 am until
2 pm on one political talk show after another reporters and politicians hash
out the issues from the previous week, and, sometimes they discuss what will
happen with key issues in the weeks to come.
discussion was the tax code. I thought someone (I don’t remember who) said that
the tax code was currently about 7,300 pages long. “Wow,” I thought. So I went
to the trusty search engines of the internet and I asked for clarification. How
many pages are there in the tax code? The answer was quite astounding. First of
all the articles say that no one knows the exact number of pages in the tax
It?” (the U.S. tax code):
(R-OK) “The heart of IRS abuse lies in the existing tax code. Most of the
folks who work for the IRS are good people just trying to do their job, but
they are caught in a bad, overextended tax system. At 3,458 pages, twice the
length of the Bible, it’s impossible for the average taxpayer to know,
understand, and accurately apply its provisions.
federal tax code with its 44,000 pages, 5.5 million words, and 721 different
forms is a patchwork maze of complexity and a testament to confusion over
Government Printing Office ( www.gpo.gov
), you can order a complete set of Title 26 of the US Code of Federal
Regulations (that’s the part written by the IRS), all twenty volumes of it, at
the bargain price of $974, shipping included.
Printing Office, it’s 13,458 pages in total. The full text of Title 26 of the
United States Code (the part written by Congress–available for an additional
$179) is a mere 3,387 printed pages, bringing the adjusted gross page count to
“9-9-9 tax”. A tax code as complex as ours is insane. If no one knows the exact
number of pages in the code then I doubt if anyone knows all the ins and outs
of the contents of the U.S. tax code.
conference room and have them tackle some of the following projects:
A comprehensive index of topics covered in the
An organized condensation of tax laws and codes
Judgments about which tax codes, loopholes,
exemptions to overturn
Devise a tax code that will fit in 1,000 pages
give or take a few
Offer a bonus if they succeed.
opportunities for reform and simplification. How can we expect Congress to do
this task? A panel of experts is needed but can we afford such a panel? Do you
think anyone would volunteer?
This author makes the following suggestion:
illustration, of course, feeds the frenzy to revamp or scrap and replace the
current tax code.
before we even get to that place — which is a long, long way down the road —
I’d like to try another approach. Make Congress leave the tax code alone for a
the constant tinkering by Representatives and Senators that causes the most tax
trouble. At a Ways and Means hearing on
last year, committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) noted that there were nearly
4,500 tax law changes in the last decade.
lawmakers’ alterations usually are done in the most arcane ways to meet desired
budget numbers or political philosophies or the wishes of major campaign
all too often these changes are retroactive so we taxpayers and our tax and
financial advisers have no way to effectively plan.
give it a rest, guys and gals, and let’s see exactly what we have, unintended
Hercules faces when he had to clean the Augean stables. Hold your nose and