Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

April 16, 2014

We concur

Rumsfeld not alone in distaste for U.S. tax code

We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.

When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:

“I have sent in our federal income tax and our gift tax returns for 2013. As in prior years it is important for you to know that I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate. I say that despite the fact that I am a college graduate and I try hard to make sure our tax returns are accurate.

“The tax code is so complex and the forms are so complicated that I know that I cannot have any confidence that I know what is being requested and therefore I cannot and do not know, and I suspect a great many Americans cannot know, whether or not their tax returns are accurate. As in past years, I have spent more money than I wanted to spend to hire an accounting firm to prepare our tax returns and I believe they are well qualified.

“This note is to alert you folks that I know that I do not know whether or not my tax returns are accurate, which is a sad commentary on governance in our nation’s capital.

“If you have questions, let me know and I will ask our accountants to be in touch with you to try to provide any additional information you may think you need.

“I hope that at some point in my lifetime, and I am now in my 80s, so there are not many years left, the U.S. government will simplify the U.S. tax code so that those citizens who sincerely want to pay what they should, are able to do it right, and know that they have done it right.

“I should add that my wife of 59 years, also a college graduate, has signed our joint return, but she also knows that she does not have any idea whether or not our tax payments are accurate.”

The Tax Foundation reports that the tax code has 2,652 pages and more than 1 million words. The 1040 Tax Form has gone from 30 lines and having one page of instruction to 87 lines and 206 pages of instruction.

Is it any wonder why people dread the annual task of tax filing? It’s another example of bureaucracy running amok.

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