As the April 15 tax deadline nears, millions of Americans, myself included, are simply overwhelmed by the complexity of our Byzantine Federal Tax Code, which at last count was at 61,000 pages in print and growing. What a waste of trees, and what huge waste of our personal time which is its own tax. I have the simplest of solutions for what may be the most complex of all problems. Move Tax Day from April 15 to the first Monday in November. The re-scheduling would mean that on even years you and I would be filing our income taxes the day before the national elections. We could do our taxes while watching the various House, Senate and White House candidates campaigning, and one suspects that tax simplification just may move up on the play list of political topics.Of all the wonderful ground covered in the last Presidential campaign, tax simplification was, for the most part, not on the radar. The exception was Mike Huckabee, who proposed a radical 23 percent national sales tax that would replace most current federal taxes and abolish the IRS. In one debate, Huckabee quipped that most Americans are more worried about getting mugged by the IRS than by street criminals. Huckabee’s sales tax proposal may be nonsense, but his goal of simplifying our lives and removing the IRS Sword of Damocles is laudable.You know the Tax Code is out of control when it bites the very politicians who helped create it. Witness the grim parade of Obama appointments derailed by tax troubles, including the withdrawal of two HHS Secretary nominees (Daschle and Killefer). Tax clouds hang over Labor Secretary Solis (whose spouse was reported as tax delinquent) and even over “Taxpayer One,” Treasury Secretary Geithner who owed $34,000 in back taxes plus $8,000 in interest. I am giving these Obama nominees the benefit of the doubt. I assume that they, like most of us, are reasonably willing to pay their fair share. Like many others, they waded into the Tax Code Tar Pit and got stuck. Indeed, each year one or more non-profit groups sends out the identical tax information for a reasonably simple household to the top tax preparer firms. The prepared tax returns invariably differ and sometimes differ by big bucks — there is no one answer as one sorts through the IRS’ galactic morass of railroad pension exclusions, investment tax credits, accelerated depreciation and unearned income schedules. Help!So why not move Tax Day to the first Monday in November? The date for Federal Elections has been set by law since 1845 and is part of our national fabric. No such history backs the April 15 tax deadline. Congress passed the Sixteenth Amendment (which created personal income tax) in 1913 and in 1914 chose March 1 as the Federal Tax deadline. In 1918 the Federal Tax deadline was moved to March 15. Then in 1955 (during my lifetime!), Congress moved reckoning day with IRS to its current April 15.I am not a conspiracy monger, but one cannot help but notice that the mid-April tax opera is about as far removed on the calendar from the November elections as it could be. Let’s change that. Please, would just one elected voice from the tax wilderness step forward and propose Tax Day on the first Monday in November and get on with the business of a fair, simple, and straightforward system of American taxation?
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