- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It is a taxing situation in more ways than one. Researchers at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation have done all the math on tax code complexity to reveal that the U.S. economy loses $233.8 billion as Americans race to complete and file forms.

Here’s the rationale: The organization says all that activity amounts to 6.1 billion hours of lost productivity - an estimated value of $202.1 billion. Added on: the $31.7 billion in out-of-pocket costs for professional preparers or software to comply with “a complex and invasive tax code,” the researchers say.

“Americans face a rising tax complexity burden that essentially prevents anyone from being able to comply without assistance,” says study author Michael Tasselmyer. “This year’s study gives an indication of future challenges, revealing the additional complications the Affordable Care Act will add to the Tax Code and filing.”

Indeed, the researchers also found a “staggering” 3,322 pages of legal guidance for the Affordable Care Act at the IRS website. The content includes regulations, Treasury decisions, assorted notices, revenue procedures, and revenue rulings.

The study also notes that the estimated length of the Tax Code itself is about 4 million words - seven times the length of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace - or well over twice the length of the five Song of Ice and Fire series books that inspired the popular TV show Game of Thrones.

The study grimly recalls that the Form 1040 instructions were once just two pages long. “Today, taxpayers must wade through 209 pages of instructions, quadruple the number in 1985, the year before taxes were simplified,” it states.

Find the research here

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