Simpler tax code

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The Kansas City Star

Almost everyone understands the need to pay taxes. But the government shouldn't make it so difficult for many ordinary Americans to figure out how much to pay.

Every politician in Washington, from the president on down, claims to want a simpler income tax system. Yet it remains ludicrously complicated.

In fact, the federal government can't even limit itself to a single system. The alternative minimum tax forces many people to do two sets of tax calculations using two entirely different sets of rules. ...

Taxpayers face additional aggravations on state returns. ...

People often point fingers at the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS certainly has its problems. But the real culprits are elected officials. Congress and the president are the ones who make the tax laws.

The fundamental problem with those laws is that they set up a vast array of loopholes that favor some people over others. In addition to being unfair, these loopholes require the collection and reporting of information about everything from medical expenses to magazine subscriptions.

Tax breaks seem nice when you get them. That's why politicians are always handing out new ones. But they force the government to set higher tax rates than would otherwise be necessary.

It would be much simpler _ and far more fair_ to limit tax breaks and reduce overall tax rates.

If taxpayers have any energy left now that the dreaded April 15 deadline has passed, they should consider writing lawmakers and President Bush to demand a simpler system.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: