John Ransom

At 74,000 pages, the IRS code is a mind-boggling ode to lobbying, pork-barrel spending and graft. These are the only good things that I can say about the IRS.

Ode may be too friendly a word, however.

Let’s instead call it an incantation for our country. Because the code holds a country in thrall like the winged monkeys in Dorothy’s Oz were held. And until the witch is dead, we monkeys must do her bidding.

Politicians, economists and ordinary citizens can’t follow the tax code, which has tripped up cabinet nominees, majority leaders and others who ought to know better. But they don’t know better, and not just because of the venality of these people at the top—yeah there is that too-- but because the code is too complex.

Increasingly our government is proving indispensable to us by making things so complex that nothing works, from our economy to our tax code, without a great deal of forcing. That square peg indeed will go in that round hole…just as soon as the government rams it down our throats.

The National Taxpayer’s Advocate must release a report every year detailing the top problems facing the agency because there are a lot of problems. Tax compliance, political interference, and opaque language top the list of complaints.

60 percent of filers use a professional service to compute their taxes according to the National Taxpayer’s Advocate, which has identified “preparer fraud” as a top priority amongst items for reform. The rest of are thinking that perhaps the role of the taxpayer advocate is to do away with the need to use tax preparers in the first place.

That would reduce fraud quite a bit. They can’t steal if you don’t give them the opportunity.

A recent non-scientific survey of people not named Joe Biden revealed that 100 percent of tax filers would rather use a simple postcard sized return limited to about five lines.

And then there is the question of “fairness.”

John Ransom

John Ransom’s writings on politics and finance have appeared in the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Colorado Statesman, Pajamas Media and Registered Rep Magazine amongst others. Until 9/11, Ransom worked primarily in finance as an investment executive for NYSE member firm Raymond James and Associates, JW Charles and as a new business development executive at Mutual Service Corporation. He lives in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom.

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