Focus Point - "Fixing" the tax code

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. According to USA Today, the Bush Administration's considering overhauling or simplifying the tax code. I wish them luck, but trouble generally follows measures to "simplify" the tax code.

Reagan really did simplify it a little back in '86, but since then our various "reforms" - I'll put that in quotation marks - have grown the Federal tax code and regulations by almost 60 percent. The code is now up to 9 million words versus 5.7 million 25 years ago. Even some of the Reagan Tax Relief Brief. The next year, 38 federal taxes went up.

And as argued here before, one of the results of the complicated reforms is that it takes you longer to do taxes - or costs more to pay someone else to do them. Furthermore, the complexity means no one understands the tax code, including, presumably, the congressmen who "simplify" it, and definitely the IRS agents who enforce it. A few more reforms, and we'll get a flat tax or a national sales tax out of sheer exhaustion.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, the skeptical environmentalist.

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