Focus Point - Tax Confusion

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The congress's joint committee on taxation just released a new study on tax simplification. The statistics - which have nothing to do with simplicity - are mind-boggling.

The Internal Revenue code has 1,395,000 words. As of June of last year, the Treasury Department had issued tax regualtions containing more than 8 million words.

There are 649 different IRS forms, schedules, and instructions totaling more than 16,000 different lines, and 340 different IRS publications totaling more than 13,000 pages. The 1040 form alone has 144 pages of instructions and 19 separate worksheets.

Taxpayers contacted the IRS 117 million times in 1999 for advice and clarification -- and got a wrong answer 47 percent of the time.

Before the congress simplifies all this once again, wouldn't it be better to have a flat tax with a large personal exemption?

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