April 16 2012

Happy Tax Day?

Carrie L. Lukas

Procrastinating Americans everywhere spent this spring weekend madly tracking down tax papers and filling out forms in order to meet this year’s tax deadline.  

Automatic withholding shields Americans from feeling the full impact of how much of the government swallows up of our earnings, since most don’t actually have to write a check to Uncle Sam this month. Aand many have the pleasure of anticipating a refund for having over-paid their taxes throughout the year.

Yet few Americans would disagree that there’s something wrong with our tax process. 

It simply shouldn’t be so complicated for law-abiding Americans to file their taxes.  And what I mean by “law-abiding” is all of us who intend to follow the law and pay the taxes that they legally owe.  One of the worst things about our current tax regime is who really feels confident that they have gotten their taxes right and not missed the opportunity to claim a deduction or inadvertently over-stated an expense? 

As I wrote recently in this policy brief, IRS agents tasked with reviewing someone’s tax records rarely reach the same conclusion about how much someone owes.  It’s no wonder, then, that so many Americans feel insecure about their own ability to accurately file their taxes. As a result, Americans are spending more money enlisting outside help in tax filing. 

What a waste of time and resources!  Imagine if all that money was instead put to product use—we’d be a richer nation as well as a happier, less hassled one.

The good news is that tax season is over for this year.  The bad news is that unless something changes to significantly reform and simplify our tax code, this sad rite of spring will continue to repeat.

 

 

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