The US tax code is stuffed with tax breaks to further some social policy or another. We’ve made it safer for legislators to funnel money to the poor, the parents of college aspirants, those saving for retirement by giving them a tax break than by appropriating money for the purpose deemed worthwhile.
And these are the consumer breaks. The business tax breaks, to favor one industry or behavior or another, are more prevalent and more complex still.
Kathy Kristof’s article today points out that the tax code has become so complex that most people hire others to prepare their returns and those professionally prepared returns are full of errors!
The national expenditure of talent and money to navigate the tax code is not a rational use of bright people. Tom Friedman pointed out last week the waste of talent commited by Wall Street developing exotic financial instruments rather than genuinely useful products.
As an electorate, let’s become brave enough to make our policy choices upfront, and not disguised as a matter of taxation. Consider what the nation could do with the energy and intellect of accountants and lawyers liberated from tax issues as a result.