EZ Does It
The tax code is confusing, fraught with injustice and, according to one senator, easy to fix.
(MONEY Magazine) - Around this time of year, Sen. Ron Wyden wants you to go skiing with your kids, read a novel, plant a garden--anything but do taxes. The Oregon Democrat has dreamed up a tax code so simple it shrinks forms down to one page. In exchange, we'd have to pay a greater percentage of our capital gains and dividends to Uncle Sam. But Wyden says that by closing loopholes commonly used by the rich, his plan would end up reducing the taxes that 70% of Americans pay while cutting the deficit $100 billion in five years.
Q It took me only 15 minutes to complete my taxes using your proposed tax form. Why does filing have to be so difficult? A We have a wildly and unnecessarily complicated tax code. Every group with a lobbyist gets a break. Since 1986, we have seen more than 14,000 amendments. That's nearly three every working day.
Q So how do we get out of this mess? A I have introduced an alternative called the Fair, Flat Tax. You take all your income, subtract your deductions, take your credits. Add it up and send it all off on a one-page 1040 form to the IRS. If you want, you can add a note saying, "Have a nice day. I'm done."
Q What's the catch? A We get rid of scores of individual breaks--that's the painful part. For instance, teachers get a small tax break when they buy pens for their students. My plan gets rid of that. When my staff came to me with this proposal I said, "You're proposing what?" But if we eliminate all loopholes, those teachers will pay less.
Q It's been 20 years since the last major tax reform. Why now? A The case is greater today for tax reform than it was in 1986. Today the alternative minimum tax clobbers 20 million Americans. There is also a growing sense that middle-class people are falling behind. To Democrats I say that standing up for the middle class is central to our principles, and nothing is more basic than standing up for a fair tax system. To Republicans I say: What are going to be your big accomplishments in the President's second term? This is much more doable than Social Security reform. No legislator is going to see protesters outside their office carrying signs saying, "I love the Internal Revenue code."
...Tax time: Americans spend 4.3 billion hours each
year filing tax returns and complying with tax laws, reports Citizens Against