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Jay Evensen: A tax code no one understands — is this any way to fund a country?

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  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 10, 2014 12:23 a.m.

    The reason our tax code is so complex is because there are thousands of lobbyists persuading congress to enact deductions, exemptions, credits, and loopholes, few of which benefit ordinary working taxpayers. Money in politics causes our inordinately confusing and confounding tax code.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 10, 2014 6:09 a.m.

    Lets see. Who benefits most from an overly complex tax code.

    Number one on my list would be accountants and accounting firms.

    So, lets follow the money. ALWAYS follow the money!

    In 2012 this group spent over $16 MILLION in campaign funding to members of congress and PACs.
    Additionally, they spent $20 million on Lobby efforts. (in 2012 alone)

    So, Accountants and accounting firms spent over $36 million dollars in 2012.
    And you want to call that "free speech" and contend that it is good for our country?

    I would love to ask you that while you were hooked up to a lie detector.

    opensecrets dot org is a great site to see who is bribing our congress. It is mind boggling.

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    April 10, 2014 8:03 a.m.

    And the vast majority of lawyers are Democrats, because Democrats love to add more and more and more laws, taxes, and regulations that nay apply to the peasants (What, you think Democrats pay taxes? Ask Geitner or any one of a number of other democrats who have "made mistakes" that somehow means they don't pay taxes we all would be sent to jail for missing).

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    April 10, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    When conservatives talk about "tax reform," they are really talking about shifting taxes from the country club class to the middle class.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    April 10, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    I have a competent CPA (I think) do my taxes each year. I just don't have the time or expertise to try and do them myself any more. Yet, when I get the final forms from him that I have to sign and send in to the government, I still don't fully understand them.

    I am expected to sign each form stating that I believe that the information is correct, when for the most part, I have no idea if it is right or not. That is how complex our system has become.

    I pay a boatload of taxes each year and it never seems to be enough. Not only does the government demand an ever increasing portion of my earnings, they expect me to spend an inordinate amount of my time making sure I track everything and swear I got it all right.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    April 10, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    I remember when (I think it was Reagan), at the state of the union address put up the tax code on the stand for everyone to see it. Thousands of pages. Like reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. You talk to the IRS and can get two different answers to the same question from two different IRS representatives. No one can possibly understand it all. I'll bet many of us break one tax code law by obeying another. Time for some simplification. Let's make the Whole tax code one big 1040 EZ form.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    April 10, 2014 9:00 a.m.

    I'm a retired teacher, a Democrat, who paid 2% more in "effective taxes" than Mitt Romney paid in 2011. But then, I don't have all those loopholes and deductions and off-shore tax havens available to me that have been tailor made for the upper crust of our nation.

    So, yes, even we awful Democrats do pay taxes. Too often it is even more than our wealthy Republican "leaders."

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    April 10, 2014 9:09 a.m.

    Why they tried to differentiate between people who prepared their tax returns themselves versus those who had them done "professionally" is perplexing.

    NO ONE understands the code...and no one has for **years**!!

    I don't know if I was always calling about topics on the fringes of the tax code back when I used to try and do my tax returns on my own (hard to believe considering the relative simplicity of my financial dealings back then) but it was a true rarity to have someone at the IRS who could give me a simple, straight forward answer not couched in one sort of caveat or another.

    The frustrating and more than a bit horrifying truth is, the tax code is such a mess that no one, not even in the IRS, really knows it!

    As we often hear, particularly with regard to affairs of government, "The devil is in the details". There are far too many devilish details in the tax code. We can and MUST do better!

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 10, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    In America today nearly half of Americans pay no federal income taxes while anyone who is successful is punished by "the code" and the freeloaders get rewarded. That's the real "tax code". EVERYBODY should pay some taxes not just a few who are forced to pick up the tax tab for the 47%. Detroit is a good example of the results of the "tax code". Those who are punished take their jobs, their money and leave and guess who is left?

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    April 10, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    Interesting to note in the National News section of today's DN the following headline:

    AP-GfK Poll: Most Americans say filing taxes easy

  • 1conservative WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 10, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    Some of you other oldsters may remember back in the 80's Reagan made a big point of trying to "simplify" the tax code.

    Congress did, and declared VICTORY!!

    I prepared taxes at the time. My two 4 inch-thick binders of blank tax forms went to 4 4inch thick binders. The instructions were (at the time)in 8 binders 4 inches thick and they expanded to 12 binders of the same size.

    So much for simplification.

    It was one of my first exposures to the fact tht Congress doesn't always do what they say they will do.

    I'm also highly skeptical that anything Congress would do outside of a complete and total revamping of the tax code would benefit anyone except the special interest groups.

  • Weberboy Fruit Heights, UT
    April 10, 2014 11:05 a.m.

    Good thing the LDS church doesn't try to do tithing like the government tries to do taxes. In fact the government should give the flat tax a try because well, its simple. And for those who think that a flat tax is just a way to shift tax paying from the rich to the poor, thats not exactly true because like the church, the government does and should give welfare services to the poor.

  • anotherview SLO, CA
    April 10, 2014 11:36 a.m.

    Re:JoeBlow
    "Lets see. Who benefits most from an overly complex tax code.
    Number one on my list would be accountants and accounting firms."

    The info I looked at on OpenSecrets reports the AICPA (professional organization of CPAs) spent $4 million in lobbying, not $20 million and less than $1 million in contributions. (It is also interesting they gave nearly equal amts to the RNC and the DNC).

    You are blaming the tail for wagging the dog.
    Yes, corporations employ tax accountants and they pay tax accountants and lobbyists to find ways to reduce their tax liability.
    Many accountants don't prepare tax returns. And no matter what tax reform is instituted there will always be a need for tax preparers. I don't know of any tax preparer opposed to simplfying the tax code. But it will never happen because corporations and individuals all have their favored tax "loophole." Would we be willing to give up home interest deduction? Would Mitt Romney give up his carried-interest deduction? What about deductions for charitable donations? How do we define income? Does income include calpital gains? Should capital gains be taxed the same rate as ordinary income?

  • PaulS Highland, UT
    April 10, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    The suggestion that the IRS is competent to regulate paid tax return preparers is not only wishful thinking, it also gives the IRS power to intimidate and coerce paid preparers into adopting the IRS' viewpoint on every issue. Every year, the courts tell the IRS that it is wrong in its interpretation of various provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. Taxpayers should be able to receive advice that differs from the IRS "party line". We don't let prosecutors regulate defense attorneys either. Long before the IRS is given more power, they should find a way to better teach their own personnel what the law is.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    April 10, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    Filing my taxes has been very simple the last few years. I use a popular tax prep computer program that steps me through it and guarantees the results for accuracy. The program costs about $60 and my entire family is able to use it.

    But even so, the tax code does need a complete overhaul to eliminate the breaks that wealthy folks may use to pay a lower percentage of total income than we peasants must pay.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    April 10, 2014 11:48 a.m.

    One Old Man: I am not worried about Mitt Romney or John Carrey (It doesn't matter one hill of beans whether it is a Democrat or Republican. Mitt Romney and Harry Reid take advantage of every tax law possible. Harry Reid is just envious that Romney is worth 50 million and he is only worth six). It isn't Mitt Romney's or John Carrey's manipulation of the tax code to keep more of their money that bothers me. It is the average citizen that doesn't have a clue as to why it happens and doesn't want to do anything about it. The IRS should be abolished! Oh, how are we going to pay for things? That answer is a joke! Fear of government is no reason to acquiesce to the game that is played to keep the poor poor and the rich rich. No amount of laws written, passed, or otherwise is going to fix something that is a mess in the first place, put in power by people who were manipulated in the first place in imposing the charade known as the IRS.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 10, 2014 11:51 a.m.

    To those complaining about taxes being too high or going up constantly: Total federal taxes today are lower than they were at any point during Ronald Reagan's presidency. They are also 4% of GDP lower than they were at their highest point, which was in 2000. That is a huge drop.
    Source: Taxes as a percent of GDP from the tax policy center.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    April 10, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    one old man:

    I know that many liberals try to paint this issue as some kind of Republican caused problem, but it really is bi-partisan. There are as many loopholes for liberal fat-cats as there are for conservative ones.

    You may have paid a higher tax rate than Mitt Romney did one year, but you probably paid a higher rate than a whole bunch of liberal rich folks who used loopholes as well. Lobbying for tax breaks is common on both sides of the aisle.

    I will bet that there are just as many Democrats who hate the tax code as there are Republicans, so stop trying to make this a "rich conservative" vs "poor liberal" issue.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 10, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    another view.

    Google opensecrets accountants then look at totals. My $20 mill was for 2012 and I stand by it.

    You are talking about one lobby group. I am talking about the whole category.

    While you are at it, google opensecrets defense. then go to totals.

    Folks, it is mind boggling how much money is spent to influence our congress.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    April 10, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    I have no issues w/ the IRS forms or corresponding instructions. Its the state forms and instructions that need a Rosetta Stone.

  • David Centerville, UT
    April 10, 2014 1:41 p.m.

    Imagine what a flat tax rate with no deductions would do (That's right, no deductions):

    Save the cost of tax preparation.
    Save the time it takes to organize, track, report & file taxes.
    Significantly reduce the lobbying of Congress with all of its attendant frauds, dishonesties, and abuses.
    Every American would be on the same footing. Rich and poor would all pay the same amount.
    Predictable, simple. Government could easily anticipate income, and budgets.
    Significantly reduce vote-buying & political corruption (you know, the thing that Democrats have done to shore up 47% of the vote in the US, and the thing that Republicans do to appeal to small and big business).

  • anotherview SLO, CA
    April 10, 2014 2:01 p.m.

    re:JoeBlow
    It is mind boggling how much money is spent--combining lobbying dollars with campaign dollars--to influence Congress.

    You were citing campaign contributions. I was strictly looking at lobbying money, which is why we had different figures.

    I googled: open secrets accountants (lobbying)
    2012 shows:
    total for accountants: ($15 million, including the $4 million from the AICPA)

    googled: open secrets defense (lobbying)
    2012 shows: $136 million

    Defense: "Individuals and political action committees associated with the defense sector contributed more than $27 million to political candidates and committees during the 2012 campaign cycle" (open secrets)
    Accountants: $20 million (as you cited)

    As I pointed out corporations pay tax accountants (and other types of accountants) and lobbyists.
    But there are other reasons—including tax reform and simplification—that tax accountants favor. How much lobbying is done by corporations for special “loopholes” vs “tax simplification” to make it easier for them to file/pay taxes? Furthermore, accountants who do other types of jobs such as financial reporting, auditing, financial advisors etc may be lobbying for changes in those areas, not tax at all.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    April 10, 2014 2:35 p.m.

    @Thid Barker
    "EVERYBODY should pay some taxes"

    They pretty much do, everyone's still paying sales taxes for instance. If you're upset about people not paying income taxes, that's actually what Republicans wanted when it came to welfare reform by providing tax incentives as an alternative to otherwise larger welfare checks. So there's the Earned Income Tax Credit, for instance.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 10, 2014 3:24 p.m.

    I agree.
    Seems like it COULD be so simple IF we didn't need to protect so many loopholes.

    Just write down your income, divide, subtract what you've already paid... and pay the balance or wait for your refund.

    No loopholes for mortgages, for kids, for school, for certain types of investments, for certain types of income, for charitable contributions, for political contributions, for medical expenses, no deductions for whatever social engineering project the government is trying to promote at the time...

    ===

    It also doesn't help that both the Feds and the State want to tax you (differently).

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 10, 2014 3:29 p.m.

    @David
    Centerville, UT
    "Imagine what a flat tax rate with no deductions would do (That's right, no deductions):"

    Okay David, let's suppose I own a small grocery store. My sales for the year were $3 million, my cost of the products I sold was $2.7 million, my rent was $100k and I paid salaries to my checkers, etc. in the amount of $150k. And let's suppose you started a small pizza business during the year. Your sales of pizzas and sodas totaled $200k, you expended 150k for your pizza oven, delivery car and other equipment, paid $40k for rent, $30k for salaries, and $10k for pizza dough, cheese and soda.

    What would our business's taxable incomes tax liabilities be in the two situations under your proposed system? Why wouldn't we need to keep records and file income tax returns reporting our incomes? Why would the government not need to hire agents to verify that our sales (for example) were really what we said they were?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 10, 2014 4:00 p.m.

    If everybody had to pay income taxes (not just sales tax)... then people could no longer vote to increase income taxes on other people... and not be voting to increase their own taxes.

    I don't think I should be able to vote to increase somebody else's taxes (but not mine). Who wouldn't vote to take more money from somebody you don't like...?

    Social studies prove this will pass every time.

    ===

    I think if Income Taxes go up... they should go up for everybody (not just a small group).

    Because IF the administration can sell the fact that it's not going to change the taxes of the majority at all.... they can get the majority to vote for any tax increase they want... every time... it doesn't affect the majority so why would the majority vote against it?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 10, 2014 4:21 p.m.

    @1aggie,
    Cheeze etc, are not income tax deductions. A pizza place is taxed on it's "profit". Profit takes into account the ingredients and resources and expenses that went into the product or service you sell.

    "Deductions" are things like the earned income credit, the child education credit, the healthcare expense deduction, etc...

    keep it simple... no income tax deductions.

    ===

    Accountants and finance people will still be needed at your grocery store and your pizza place. They don't only work on taxes. Somebody has to figure out what your profit is.

    But Cheese is NOT an income tax deduction...

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    April 10, 2014 5:05 p.m.

    A fair tax would be a great alternative, but only if we did away with any exemptions and refunds and kept the percentage low. The Fair Tax (AKA the federal sales tax) is also a good alternative because it eliminates a tax on income altogether and only taxes spending. So, it puts the control of how much people pay in taxes squarely in their hands and you'd receive all your income in each pay check. There are those who would argue that this would hinder consumer spending, but in actuality it would force the government to keep the tax rate lower as consumer spending would stall if it got too high. Plus, it would allow the government to actually stimulate the economy without just writing a bunch of checks or inflating our currency. And most importantly: We would never have to file income taxes!

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    April 10, 2014 5:08 p.m.

    @Mister J
    AMEN! I don't know how, but my state taxes got infinity more complicated(and higher) after the state moved to the 5% flat tax. And even though they take money out of my check every 2 weeks, they always seem to say I owe more at the end of the year. How hard is it for the State of Utah to just take 5%?

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 10, 2014 5:34 p.m.

    Excuse me 2 bits,, but where exactly did I say that cheese is a deduction? First of all, we are not dealing with a 'real' tax system here; I simply asked David how payments for things (including cheese) would be handled in the hypothetical system he suggested. I did NOT suggest it is a deduction (not being in his head I could not possibly know). Unless you are David, I don't know how you can bust into my hypothetical and school me on what my hypothetical payments should be labeled in David's hypothetical system.

    In case you are confused and thinking that we are dealing with today's Internal Revenue Code, then under current law payments for cheese as described above are deductions toward taxable income as set out in IRC Sections 161 and 162.

  • viejogeezer CARLSBAD, CA
    April 10, 2014 7:22 p.m.

    The reason the tax code is so complicated is that we live in a democracy with a multitude of voting constituencies each wanting their own carveout. Investors want capital gains breaks, businesses large and small want their own breaks, charities want donations to be deductible. Banks, builders, and homeowners want property tax and interest deductions. Each of us is part of our own lobby. Its us, not the lobbyists who make it complicated and it is simply never going to change. Take earned credit for example. We think of it as a benefit for the working poor. that may be true but it is a little deceptive. It really has the effect of allowing business to pay less to employees and push the below market wages off on the public. Since money flows up[wards in our economy it winds up with the rich anyway and EIC is really a benefit for the poor, paid for by the middle which ultimately goes to the rich. As to the 47% nonsense, you need to look at total tax burden, not just income tax. All five quintiles pay about the same percent in total taxes.

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 10, 2014 7:38 p.m.

    I see a steady barrage of hand-wringing on this and other right-wing websites regarding the tax code, but seldom any viable proposals. This particular article complains that our tax code is no way to fund a country. So the obvious question is what country has a better system than ours? What country's system is more simple yet brings in sufficient revenue (without the need for so many evil accountants)? There are hundreds of countries out there with hundreds of tax systems (no two are exactly alike). If the author, or others, have a viable proposal with an example of where it has been implemented, then I am all ears. Until then, it sounds like a bunch of uneducated whining to me.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 10, 2014 8:38 p.m.

    Shazam! Ultra Tax to the rescue.

    All the people owe their support to the government(s), according to the benefit they receive from being a citizen or any one else living and enjoying the benefits of that government. The best and most accurate way to distribute the costs of government is to tax personal income at its source, business.

    When a business operation pay out money for anything and every thing it is providing income to someone, somewhere. If we apply a flat rate tax on the out payments of business operations, we are taxing the owners, workers, investors, and any one who receives that money no matter who he is or where he lives. All at the same flat rate.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    April 10, 2014 8:58 p.m.

    Dear Repubs,

    Please name another industrialized country one earth that:

    A. Relies on a Flat Tax to finance its country

    or

    B. Relies on a Sales Tax to finance its country.

    Thank You.

  • David Centerville, UT
    April 10, 2014 9:07 p.m.

    1Aggie,

    You ask good questions. Thank you.

    I run a small business. I have occupancy, supplies, payroll, marketing, equipment, administrative services, human and physical resource development, and other expenses. The taxable income would be the profit, as 2bits stated.

    Your grocery business would have profitability, as would the pizza place. The profitability would be taxed.

    Perhaps your point is that business expenses would be a deduction. That is a good point. I realize that my proposal applies to individuals, and not businesses.

    My proposal is that for income taxes, just make them flat and fair. It would still require an accountant to verify (checking Profit & Loss statements and perhaps even Balance Sheets). But I pay my accountant for his time and his skill. Under a fair, flat tax, it would be less expensive because the accountant's time would be significantly reduced. The government would still get the revenue it needs, and everyone would pay an equal, fair tax.

    Now what are your concerns with an equal, fair, flat tax? One that is easier to calculate (my kids could calculate it) costs less to administer & significantly reduces government cost?

  • Just saying 7 Indianapolis, IN
    April 10, 2014 9:17 p.m.

    Those who think that accountants lobby for more complicated tax code are clueless. What sense does it make for someone to make their jobs harder? And create more opportunities to mess up returns for clients? Far more likely, CPAs were lobbying not to implement ridiculous proposals. In fact you have no idea what accountants were lobbying for. There are tax preparers and there are CPAs . A CPA can represent you before the IRS usually winning their case to save you, the client, a lot of money. Unfortunately, the tax code is needlessly complicated. Just because CPAs who prepare taxes earn their income this way does not make them suspect. You may as well say that a doctor causes disease so he can cure it and thereby earn money. And by the way no one memorizes the tax code nor is expected to. Like no one memorizes the physicians desk reference. The point is to understand the code well enough to apply it to certain circumstances.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    April 10, 2014 9:20 p.m.

    It results from two forces: 1. Special interest groups across the political spectrum lobby for tax breaks for small groups (unions, framers, oil companies, grape growers, ad nauseum), 2. The legislators do not want to give up that income or relinquish their power to guide the economy even though those reading the tax code are usually smarter than the Congress. The unintended consequence of many tax laws is embarrassing. When tax payers, individual or corporate, follow the bizarre tax code they are accused of using loop holes. Congress created those loop holes, not the tax payer, under the name "tax incentives." Blame anyone you like, but the situation is the way it is because Congress wants it that way.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 10, 2014 10:18 p.m.

    @David,
    Thank you. If I understand you properly, then you are saying that you run a small business and want to be allowed the deductions that you currently have(for supplies, payroll, equipment, etc.), but you also want a new tax system (presumably for individuals other than you) that does not allow deductions. I fear you have just made the Internal Revenue Code more complicated than it already is because and on top of the current system (allowing deductions) for self-employed people there would be a new system for other individuals?
    To illustrate the need for rules, how would you compute your expense for equipment that you buy on December 1st of a year? Would you get to write off the whole amount, one year's worth(based on some useful life), 1/12th of one year's worth, or some other amount? What if you borrowed the money to buy the equipment versus paid cash? Could I borrow money and buy horses for my horse racing hobby every year and never ever pay tax?

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 10, 2014 10:27 p.m.

    Ultra Bob,
    Congratulations. Your suggestion will drive all remaining US businesses offshore because under its international treaties, the United States cannot tax businesses that do not have a physical presence (generally called a "permanent establishment") here. Everybody will simply stop buying all their stuff from US businesses and buy from foreign companies who cannot be compelled by the US government to pay your suggested tax on their out payments.

  • David Centerville, UT
    April 10, 2014 10:34 p.m.

    1Aggie,

    Again, good questions. If a flat tax were applied to profits only, ie the take home, then equipment purchases would be written off in the year they were purchased. Only profit would be taxed.

    In my mind this is fair. An employee pays tax only on what they take home, their earnings. The business owner would pay tax only on the profit. Now if he leaves some of the profit in the business, he would pay tax on that because it is profit.

    But if he took out a loan to purchase the equipment, he wouldn't pay tax on the principle payments nor the interest over time (5 years, 10 years, etc.) because those are business expenses.

    If your horse hobby was a business then you could write them off. But you've got to have some money to live on (you can't live on horses, nor on hay). You would be taxed on the profits.

    This would probably encourage investment, small business growth, economic growth. In my mind it would also encourage savings if the tax were viewed as fair. By the way, I would include interest earnings on investments as profits...thus taxable.

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 10, 2014 11:37 p.m.

    David,

    Sorry to butt in. You are describing a pure cash-method of accounting (with one rate bracket). The slightly modified (I won't get technical here) cash method of accounting used to be available for all taxpayers, but was discontinued for most taxpayers because it was too easy for taxpayers to manipulate (deemed unfair) and it didn't bring in enough revenue.

    To illustrate, let's say I am a real estate magnate (think Donald Trump). Even though I live in a small trailer, drive a car like Warren Buffet's, and eat ramen noodles for all my meals, I am worth billions. I earn six hundred million dollars a year buying and selling real estate, but I only take out $40K to live on and invest the rest of my profits by December 31st each year in additional new properties. Luckily, I am only taxed on the uninvested cash left in my business (zero) and the $40K I take out. People are upset that I own half of America but pay almost no tax, but it's the system! I could take a yearly $40K loan to live on (and pay no tax) but that would be abusive.

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    April 11, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    For those of you who want to pay more taxes under a "simpler" plan like a flat rate or universal sales tax, how about if you just mail another check to the IRS and leave the rest of us alone.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 11, 2014 9:43 a.m.

    Maybe a tax code that nobody understands is the BEST way to fund a country...

    Then rich folks who can hire teams of accountants to find loopholes and tax shelters can pay less in taxes, and the 99% who can't hire a team of accountants don't know how to shelter their income and hide it from the Government.... so the government can take it.

    Of course I'm being a little sarcastic. But that's the way it works.

    I just see NO REASON for such a convoluted tax system... unless it's to hide income or create loopholes...

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 11, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    So we are back where we started from. People complain about complication, but do not suggest any viable proposals that (a) will raise sufficiant revenue to run the country and (b) can't be gamed by a sixth-grader.

    I have been working with the Internal Revenue Code for 30 years and the tax laws are complicated. But most rules people see as "complication" are necessary (like the hobby loss rules and at-risk basis rules) to prevent abuse. However special interests have lobbied for some special rules that add complication and are abusive.

    The rules that exist to enrich special interests are well known, so instead of arguing to blow up the whole system (which is not going to happen anytime soon) why not contact our congresspeople and focus on eliminating the egregious rules? A good example is the "carried-interest" rule that allows extremely wealthy hedge fund operators to pay tax on their personal service income at lower rates than you and I pay on our income from personal services. It's clearly abusive and is a "black-eye" on our system.. Maybe we could focus our energy on a few specifics like this and accomplish something useful.

  • Mick Murray, Utah
    April 12, 2014 7:06 p.m.

    One old man-

    Timothy Geitner used that some 60 dollar computer program to do his taxes. He then blamed the program when it was found out that he didn't pay all of his taxes.

    Be careful