Taxes

Damned Revenuers

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Why do people hate the IRS? With the delivery of the annual report of the Internal Revenue Service's own national taxpayer advocate to Congress, let us count the ways.

For the third year running, the report cites the mind-numbing complexity of federal tax laws as the biggest cause of bad feelings. Even the most basic aspects of the law, such as filing status and exemptions, "contain exceptions and special rules that many taxpayers do not understand," the report's principal author told The Wall Street Journal. Other major gripes include the length of the tax process, the IRS's lack of responsiveness, an incomprehensible phone answering system, and employees' generally rotten attitudes toward taxpayers.

So what kind of fix does the advocate advocate? Eschewing bold, sweeping moves, he opts instead for a slew of "simplification" proposals, such as a clearer definition of a qualifying child for the Earned Income Tax Credit. While such measures may mollify Congress–which regularly passes "paperwork reduction" acts and other simplification schemes–they seem unlikely to stop the hate.