- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service says filers made 2.7 million mistakes on their 2011 returns — but bad as that sounds, it’s actually an improvement over prior years.

On 2010 returns, the IRS says, filers made 6.6 million math mistakes, CNN reported.

Common problems: calculations to determine the amount of tax owed, CNN says. Roughly 15 percent of errors came in exemption columns; another 13 percent came from earned income tax credit computations.

And in 2011, a good number of filers were caught in the trap of deciphering rules for the making-work-pay credit. At least half of that year’s mistakes came from inaccurately claiming this credit, CNN says.

“As there are new laws or changes, the chance of math errors increases,” said Brent Lipschultz, a partner at an accounting firm, as quoted by CNN.

Congressional members have been pushing for changes to simplify the tax code for years. The nonprofit Freedom Works says in its “Top Ten Reasons to Scrap the Code” that “no single person knows or understands the entire code — not even IRS employees,” and that tax experts cannot even reach agreement on how many pages or words of regulations comprise the code. Some estimates put it at more than 9 million words — while the Bible, by comparison, has 774,746 words. The directions alone for some tax forms are more than 100 pages long, Freedom Works says.

Moreover, the IRS is not fully schooled on its own laws, Freedom Works reports. In 2008, the agency answered tax-related questions incorrectly at least 10 percent of the time.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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