Regulatory nightmare: Tax laws and regulations are now more than 10 MILLION words

Thursday, October 15, 2015 by

( Taxes can be a sore subject all year long, not just on April 15, the annual filing deadline for income taxes. One reason for the frustration is the incredible difficulty in complying with the federal tax code – which is now a mind-boggling 10 million-plus words.

As noted by the Tax Foundation, a recent Pew survey noted that nearly three-quarters of Americans – 72 percent – said they were disturbed by how complex the federal tax code has become.

The problem is, the IRS and Congress are doing nothing to make it simpler.

“These taxpayers are justified in their complaints: as of 2015, federal tax laws and regulations have grown to over 10 million words in length,” the Tax Foundation noted.

“This figure includes the federal internal revenue code (2,412,000 words long) and federal tax regulations (7,655,000 words long). It does not include the substantial body of tax-related case law that is often vital to understanding the tax code.”

As you might have guessed, the tax code has grown exponentially – and infinitely more complex – over the years. In 1955, for instance, both documents were 1.4 million words long. Since that year, both have grown at a pace of about 144,500 words per year, the Tax Foundation says.

Today, the federal tax code is about six times as long as it was in 1955, while federal tax regulations are 2.5 times as long.

This complex system of taxation, crafted mainly to curry favor among key electorates over the years, is a liberty- and freedom-stealing instrument of government.

“The length of the federal tax code is a good stand-in for the overall complexity of the federal tax system. After all, the more there is to know about federal tax law, the harder it is for Americans to file their taxes quickly or correctly,” Tax Foundation correctly notes.

It’s also a property theft mechanism – stealing time and money from tens of millions of filers every year.

“Tax complexity creates real costs for American taxpayers and the U.S. economy. Americans spend 6.1 billion hours and $233.8 billon complying with the tax code. Due to increasing tax complexity, over 90 percent of taxpayers now hire professional tax preparers or use tax preparation software,” the group says.

So in other words, besides serving as a blunt instrument of power for the federal government, “taxes” is an entire industry – an industry that no doubt contributes to the coffers of those elected officials responsible for maintaining it.

Is it any wonder, then, why there is little incentive to genuinely reform the U.S. tax code?

As we approach the 2016 presidential election, voters have another opportunity to make simplification of the tax code an “issue.”

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