The tax code is so long no one is really sure how long it is


The tax code has been a big topic since President Donald Trump’s visit to Missouri in August. Trump called for tax cuts and policies he said would grow the economy. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Continues to express these ideas to Missourians.

Blunt said Missourians need a simple and fair tax code.

“Our tax code has almost doubled since 1985,” Blunt said in a Tweeter September 8, in connection with a opinion piece with the same line of the Kansas City Star.

Has the tax code really doubled in 32 years? We decided to see if Blunt was right.

We contacted Blunt’s office and were reported to an article in Tax foundation.

“In 1955, the Internal Revenue Code was 409,000 words long. Since then, it has grown to a total of 2.4 million words: almost six times more than in 1955 and almost twice as many as in 1985,” indicates the website. .

The Tax Foundation defines itself as an independent, not-for-profit think tank.

The Internal Revenue Code is a list of regulations that govern how taxes are submitted and collected.

However, the Tax Foundation also points out that the tax code is not the only thing Americans face in paying their taxes. He talks about the 7.7 million words of IRS tax regulation and 60,000 pages of tax case law. They are not laws, but they are also important elements for understanding taxes.

We wanted to dig a little deeper.

If you download the United States Code’s Internal Revenue Code, also known as Title 26 in the document, the file is 6,550 pages long. All of this is not the text of the code itself, but it is still quite long. Blunt understood that the code is long, but has it doubled since 1985?

“Since its last reform in 1986, there have been thousands of additions and changes to the Tax Code over the past 30 years,” said Caroline Bruckner, executive director of the Kogod Tax Policy Center at American University.

A Report of the Taxpayers’ Advocate Service in Congress in 2008 on the Complexity of the Tax Code, explained how the word count in the tax code increased from 1.395 million words in 2001 to 3.7 million words when the report was written. That’s a 265% growth in the number of words in seven years.

“The Code has taken so long that it has become difficult even to know how long it lasts,” the report said.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service report indicates that the code length has more than tripled since 1975. A similar report published in 2012 by the Taxpayer Advocate Service noted 4 million words at the time of the report. This represents a 286% growth in word count from the 2001 figure.

Why is he growing up, however?

Bruckner pointed to the continued changes that Congress passed to increase revenues and solve problems, as well as the IRS’s annual release of tax rule changes to account for inflation.

“Our tax laws are not static and, in fact, when they are, they tend to create more problems for taxpayers than not. This is one of the reasons Congress so often adjusts the tax rate. Tax Code, ”she said.

Why are politicians so fascinated by the size of a document?

“Outdated tax policies are choking our economy and taking money out of the pockets of hard-working Missourians,” Blunt said in an article for the Kansas City Star.

Some see the size of the tax code as the problem, but others think it is the complexity of the code and the tax collection process. Bruckner believes there are ways to streamline the taxation process.

“The majority of adults in the United States now have smartphones – it doesn’t matter how long the tax code is if you could just pay your taxes using an app that tracks your expenses, deductions, and credits for you?” The challenge is how to do it. without compromising the confidentiality and security of taxpayers, ”she said.

The IRS and Taxpayer Advocate Service report also discusses how many hours it takes Americans to complete their taxes and how much money it costs to hire people to help them.

Blunt said the tax code has nearly doubled since 1985. Government and independent reports suggest the number of words used in tax has increased even more than that.

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