Thanks to the charity of the Internal Revenue Service – and the fallout from COVID-19 – we, half of Americans who pay federal income taxes, have until May 17 to file their cases.
Since I started earning enough to fill out Form 1040 and associated forms, I have only known one person who prepared their own taxes. It was Bill Archer, a Republican from Texas who previously headed the House Ways and Means Committee. I once asked Archer why he made his. He replied that not only did he think it was fun, but because he helped draft the tax code, he felt responsible for demonstrating his proficiency in filling out forms.
These days the forms are so complicated that hardly anyone I know understands them. Instructions require instructions.
I again filed jointly with my wife (over 70 pages). She owns a business, so it’s more complicated than if we filed separately. Still, the forms require translation from a language I’ve never studied and wouldn’t want. If you call the IRS and ask for help, you are still responsible for interest and penalties if they give the wrong advice.
Is it complicated? Here are a few examples. Right from the start, I am threatened with jail if I knowingly fake information on the form. The federal government does very well with threats, including those read by flight attendants. Refuse to wear a mask, even vaccinated, and you risk being arrested. Don’t even think about tampering with the smoke detector. Even the post office is spying on us now.
For clarity from the estimated tax worksheet: “Add lines 2a and 2b. Subtract line 2c from line 1. Calculate your tax on the amount in line 3 using the tables tax 2021. Warning: If you have qualified dividends or a net capital gain or plan to exclude or deduct income earned abroad or housing, see worksheets 2-5 and 2-6 in Pub. 505 for tax information. “
There are schedules and forms for everything. They are almost as numerous as the growing list of gender identities. Under Schedule D, Profits and Losses, there is this gibberish: “Totals for all short-term transactions reported on Form 1099-B for which the basis was reported to the IRS and for which you did not no adjustment (see instructions). However, if you choose to report all of these transactions on Form 8949, leave this line blank and go to line 1b. “
No civilized society should force its citizens to undergo this annual torture.
According to worldatlas.com, 12 countries have easier ways for their citizens to pay their taxes than the United States. Britain has a pay-as-you-go system (but also a nasty value-added tax). The Center for Fiscal Policy notes: “At last count, 36 other countries, including Germany and Japan, allow non-return filing for some taxpayers.”
The US government is raising record revenues. The Biden administration wants more. The problem has never been the income, but the expenses.
Not only do we need a simplified tax system, but we should also invite an external auditor to recommend the elimination of unnecessary, unnecessary, outdated and unconstitutional programs, agencies and expenditures.
The problem is, those who write these heinous and indecipherable laws are doing so to give the advantaged individuals and businesses breaks. They contribute to their campaigns, corrupting many of them while they remain in office long past their expiration date.
I would love to see the members of Congress who draft these tax laws forced to fill out the forms without the help of an advisor. Put it on C-SPAN so we can watch them waste their time trying to figure everything out like many of us have to.
Now that would be fun.