April 21, 2005 - Phil Hodgen

Tax simplification? Not in my lifetime!

I read Tax Notes Today every day. It is an online publication with all of the events of the last 24 hours in the happy world of tax.

Today’s issue had 29 (count them) 29 new pieces of tax-related legislation announced from Congress.

Fabulously important stuff like repealing the Special Occupational Tax on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol (S. 702). A reduction in the excise tax on beer (S. 722). A change so that the excise tax on alcohol is collected quarterly (H.R. 1520). (Geez. Do you think the booze lobbyists have been busy?)

But that’s not all. There are a couple of bones thrown to the “wind into electricity” afficianado (H.R. 1511 and S. 715). Good going, lobbyist! There’s a host of other stuff too dull to mention.

That’s just one day in the life of Congress. Add to this all of the flotsam and jetsam that floats through the State legislatures and it is abundantly clear why tax law is so complex. It is not complex just because the concepts are difficult to understand (though that is sometimes true). No, it is mostly complex because tax law is created like sediment falling to the bottom of the lake: all sorts of disconnected stuff is continuously deposited into the Internal Revenue Code.

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