Did Geithner have an incompetent accountant? Maybe. A Senate Finance Committee statement reports that he prepared his own returns for 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2005.No kidding.
We're tempted to say America needs a Treasury secretary who is smart enough to figure out his own taxes. But such a cheap shot would be beneath us. Instead, we are going to make a serious point:
America needs a tax code simple enough for the Treasury secretary to figure out.
I do my own taxes and just hope and pray that my tax software is right. I am not looking to cut any corners, but I also don't want the software to make any mistakes either.
And, not only is it a problem at Treasury (or soon will be), it is also a problem on Capital Hill. Congressman Charlie Rangel can't seem to keep his taxes in order either. The Instapundit talked about that problem yesterday when we was talking about tax simplification.
I have to agree with those who believe the tax codes are too complex. Some wag has estimated the size of the tax rules:
- There are approximately 700 separate sections of the Tax Code that apply to individuals.
There are over 1,500 separate provisions that apply to businesses.
- As of May 2000, before passage of the last two tax bills, the Tax Code contained 1,395,028 words –nearly 319 times the number of words in the Constitution.
- IRS Regulations contain over 8,551,444 words –over 11 times the number of words in the AV (King James) Bible.
- The IRS produces 649 separate forms, schedules, and instructions with approximately 16,100 lines. Publications providing guidance to taxpayers alone total about 13,400 pages.
If the average person can't understand the tax laws, how can they comply? We can joke about making work for accountants and lawyers, but that is not a reason for such a complicated tax system.
The reason, of course, is the curse of doing good. The people in Congress who write the tax laws are just trying to help out this or that special interest, who has a special reason why the basic tax code is unfair to them. Sometimes, that special interest is very large, like those who are buying homes with mortgages. Sometimes the special interest is just one person.
But, one hopes that the new Treasury Secretary--there is little doubt he will be confirmed--takes seriously the need to simplify the tax codes of this great nation.
Regards -- Cliff