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Ways and Means tackles tax reform

Tired of working on your 2010 taxes? Take a break and check out the testimony being presented today at the House Ways and Means hearing on How the Tax Code’s Burdens on Individuals and Families Demonstrate the Need for Comprehensive Tax Reform.

Congressional pontificating examination of the tax code is a standard mid-April exercise, regardless of which political party is in control.

This tax filing season, the Republicans have the gavel in the House. And since its constitutionally mandated that all tax legislation originate in that legislative chamber, Ways and Means attention bears watching.

Today's hearing, according to the announcement of the panel meeting, will examine some of the difficulties that individuals and families face in navigating the current tax code, including both compliance burdens and challenges faced in making long-term financial decisions when confronted with confusing, overlapping, and frequently temporary tax preferences.

Just a quick note to Congress. You guys and gals are directly responsible for most of the confusing, overlapping, and frequently temporary tax preferences, so perhaps instead of the tax code itself, y'all need to be looking at how you do your jobs. Just a thought.

But I digress. Back to today's hearing.

"As the deadline for filing individual tax returns approaches, the time for simplifying and stabilizing the tax code for individuals and families is also upon us," said W&M Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) in announcing the hearing. "With so many Americans struggling to meet their tax compliance responsibilities, Congress and the President need to work together to achieve a tax system that is fair, simple, and efficient.  While some seem to prefer a 'business-only' approach to tax reform, we owe it to the hard-working taxpayers we represent to ensure that they are not left out of this discussion.  This hearing will help the Committee better understand the many problems that plague our tax system as it affects individuals and families across the country."

I take back the earlier strikeout. Pontificating.

But tax reform is a worthy cause, regardless of the rhetoric that always accompanies any discussion. As Camp noted in his opening statement, there have been nearly 4,500 tax law changes in the last decade, 579 in 2010 along, making our tax code inordinately complex.

Today's testimony (all in PDF format) on that topic comes from:

  • Alan Viard, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute  
  • Annette Nellen, CPA and Director of the Masters of Science in Taxation Program at San Jose State University
  • Mark E. Johannessen, CFP and Managing Director at Harris – SBSB
  • Neil H. Buchanan, Associate Professor of Law at The George Washington University

When you get time, give the comments a read. I plan to, but not until sometime next week.

While Congress is busying itself with talks of tax changes, millions of us are still working on our returns under the current convoluted system.

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