The biggest problem with our current tax code is that it's too complex. Millions of hours worth of effort are wasted every year calculating who owes what, to whom, for what, in what quantities. Every year Congress makes the entire enterprise more complicated. For instance, after Hurricane Katrina, Congress wrote all kinds of breaks into the tax code for those who had been harmed by the hurricane or those who were helping those harmed by the hurricane. The result is a mess of new forms, qualifications, deductions, credits, required documentation, and -- most of all -- confusion.
It turns out that there's actually a very good reason for all of this confusion:
Three of the four top lawmakers on the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, which are in charge of writing tax laws, pay professionals to file their annual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.
(The fourth files his own taxes every year.) Will any of the other law makers ever consider filing their own taxes?
"Absolutely not," said Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.). "I'm not an accountant. I'm a lawyer."
Well, buddy, I think you should feel the pain that American taxpayers feel. I propose -- beginning next year -- that all Congresspeople and Senators be required to fill out their tax returns by hand. No calculators. No computers. No tax advisors. No visits to H&R; Block. Furthermore, any errors will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And why not -- they're writing laws that all Americans are expected to follow fully. It's only fair that they themselves face the same expectations and the same penalties for failure.
As for not allowing the lawmakers to have any help when filing their taxes, just consider it an incentive to simplify the tax code. After all, not everyone can afford fancy software of expensive advisors. If the people that write the code (who are supposedly experts on the topic) can't follow the code, maybe the code needs to be changed. Left to its own devices, I don't expect Congress to ever simplify the tax code. But maybe if we make them feel the full and undiluted pain of the tax code, they'll see the light.