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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tax Code Complexity

In our chapter on economic policy, we note that the tax code is so complex that even lawmakers on the tax-writing committees hire professional help in preparing their own income-tax returns. Here is an even more vivid example of the code's complexity, via Politics Daily:
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said in an interview that he does not prepare his own taxes because he finds the tax code "complex." The commissioner's admission came in an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program, which aired Sunday night.

Shulman appeared on the program to discuss the agency's new initiative to regulate professional tax preparers, including setting minimum standards for people who do other people's taxes. Midway through the interview, Steve Scully, the C-SPAN host, asked Shulman if he prepares his own taxes. Shulman smiled slightly and said, "I use a preparer."

Scully asked why, to which Shulman smiled and said, "Uh, I've used one for years. I find it convenient and I find the tax code complex, so I use a preparer."