Tax System Too Complicated
Bob Formaini, a Senior Economist and Public Policy Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, finally realized that he was incompetent to do his own taxes.
There is something wrong with a tax code that requires so much paperwork, so many hours of preparation, so much frustration with the endless record keeping that the law demands. And that’s just for individuals. The burdens on business are staggering. Even so, our return no doubt is, for our accountant, a baby sort of thing. I doubt that he even worked up a mild sweat. Compared with the returns he does for a living — a living created by Congress and their inability to have a simple tax code and for which I certainly do not begrudge him — our return is probably a laugher. And yet, to a guy like me with four college degrees including a PhD, it might as well be written in Klingonese. I have become, along with most of my fellow citizens, just another helpless dunce who can’t deal with the complexities that our wonderful politicians yearly serve up. The upside, assuming there is one, of being a helpless dunce is that one can no longer be held responsible. Unless Congress, “simplifying the tax laws” once more, decides that the old legal doctrine of mens rea is no longer the standard for criminal behavior. If that happens, were all potentially in some very serious trouble.
I only have three degrees, none of them in economics, and can still manage to file my taxes each year. Like Formaini, though, I’m not really sure that I’m doing them right. It’s essentially voodoo to me: I download and install that year’s edition of TaxCut, answer the questions it asks, look at it for obvious errors, and then file electronically.
Unless we abolish the income tax entirely, though, I’m not sure we’ll ever fix it. Even if we started over with a “flat” tax–which will never happen–it would soon be larded with various exceptions, exemptions, deductions, incentives, and whatnot in order to achieve some social policy through the back door.