NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

HOW DID IT GET THIS WAY?

April 1, 2005

The tax code is too complicated for taxpayers or the IRS to understand and apply. Moreover, it is complicated beyond the point of being serving the political and ideological interests of Congress, says Ernest S. Christian, former Treasury tax official and director of the Center For Strategic Tax Reform.

According to Christian, the rules change frequently, and so do the winners and losers:

  • In the past 20 years, Congress has amended the tax code more than 10,000 times.
  • Since 1993, Congress has enacted several hundred new tax rules every 18 months ones.
  • Every time Congress increases or decreases taxes, hundreds of additional miscellaneous changes are made in order to get the legislation out of committee or for final passage in the House or Senate.

In the early days of the income tax, Congress was first concerned with establishing its new power to tax income and then deciding whose income it was going to tax, says Christian. In 1913, only the income of the wealthy was taxed which was about 85,000 people and less than one percent of voters.

However, since World War II, nearly everyone has become a taxpayer and all successive Congresses have assiduously gerrymandered the tax code for the purpose of collecting the maximum amount of tax from the smallest number of voters.

Christian calls for the architects of the tax code to redirect their creative talents to devise a streamlined version built upon the principles of equality and economic good sense.

Source: Ernest S. Christian, "How Did the Tax Code Get So Complicated?" Investor's Business Daily, March 28, 2005.

 

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