Simpler, flatter tax code also can boost economy
Mar 4, 2014 Indianapolis Star

By Todd Young and Dave Camp

In the three decades since Congress last embarked on tax reform, we’ve seen a long parade of narrowly tailored credits and deductions march through Congress and into the tax code. Some benefit only a handful of special interests, and others try to influence the behavior of the public at large. Either way, tax preparation becomes more complicated and confusing with every provision. The result is a code 10 times longer than the Bible, but without any of the good news.

This sentiment rings especially true for Americans preparing their 2013 taxes. What should be a straightforward mathematical exercise of multiplying your income by your tax rate is instead a complex algorithm of various schedules, worksheets and adjustments. While new software may make the process quicker, it does not necessarily make it easier to comprehend.

Fortunately, it does not have to be this way. The House Ways and Means Committee recently introduced draft legislation to overhaul the tax code into something simpler, flatter and fairer. It would clean up the clutter of narrowly tailored provisions, reduce the number of brackets from seven to two, and ensure tax breaks don’t go only to those with the best accountants. What it means is 95 percent of filers will get the lowest possible rate just by claiming the standard deduction — that means no more saving and tracking receipts for itemized deductions. In short, tax preparation would be uncomplicated and transparent.

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