Well, the taxman made his annual visit to collect his due, and while we made it through another year, we’re also another couple of trillion dollars deeper in debt. As we are forever reminded, there are but two remedies for excessive debt: cut spending or raise taxes, one or the other, or a combination of both. Managing the national budget, therefore, is a matter of establishing a sustainable balance between those two efforts. Unfortunately, looking at the “raising taxes” part, the outlook is not promising. Even if the Tea Party/Republican anti-tax debt hawks come to understand the need for increased taxes, the system by which those taxes will be collected does not instill confidence that the taxman will be fair and equitable. The abuses and inequities are well known, underscored by the recent revelation that giant General Electric paid no taxes while realizing $14 billion in profits. Clive Crook, writing in the Financial Times, cited the tax code’s “lunatic complexity” as evidence of “legislative incompetence.” “It is something,” he wrote, “that you cannot gaze into too long without falling into despair.”
When Congressman Paul Ryan issued his controversial Roadmap for America’s Future,
he devoted considerable attention to the subject of taxes. He bemoaned the complexity of the revenue system, noting that the code consists of 70,000 pages, and that it takes the Treasury Department an additional 12,000 pages to explain and interpret it. Ryan also reported that over the past ten years more than 3,000 changes have been made to the code, and that the combination of lobbyists and campaign contributors have succeeded in having nearly a trillion dollars in annual tax breaks incorporated into the system. “Lunatic” sounds about right.
Last word goes to the Beatles: “The Tax Man”