tax

Drowning in bureaucracy - U.S. has more tax preparers than all police, firefighters combined

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: tax preparers, bureaucracy, tax code

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(NaturalNews) When the bureaucracy of the Leviathan has grown so large that it needs more people to function than there are local and state-level public servants, it's well past time to take account of how large we have allowed our government to become. And by that way, that rumbling sound you hear is our founding fathers rolling over in their graves and, most likely, looking for some tea to chuck into a harbor somewhere.

According to FaceTheFactsUSA.org, a non-partisan organization supported by George Washington University (insert founding father connection here) that essentially tracks and reports on the size and growth rate of the Leviathan, there are 1.2 million professional tax preparers in the U.S., to navigate the "labyrinth," complex and cumbersome tax code - a figure that surpasses the number of police officers (765,000) and firefighters (310,400) combined.

The complexity of the U.S. tax code has grown immensely just in the past decade alone, the group says, and that's due in large part to what can only be described as the politicization of it - politicians wanting to use it to win favor with constituents (and on that note, it's appropriate here to point out that 49 percent of Americans pay no federal income taxes at all, according to the respected, bi-partisan Senate Joint Committee on Taxation, but more on this later).

The tax code just keeps on growing

In a video posted on its website, the organization described its findings:

"If you're paying someone to help with your taxes, you're not alone. You know, back in 1913 there were just 400 pages of federal tax law. Now, we've got more than 72,000 (the figure shown in the video is 72,536 pages). So it's not surprising the taxes stress people out. They can leave Americans with the fear of being audited by a taxation system so complex they can't hope to understand it. To figure out all that complexity, we pay tax preparers. As many as 1.2 million tax preparers get paid to understand America's taxes. That's more than all our police and firefighters combined. "

Without question, our massive and complicated tax code has created a cottage industry of analysts and preparers whose ranks would certainly shrink if lawmakers ever got serious about simplifying the tax code (and there are lots of groups and individuals who have good ideas about how to accomplish that). But is that such a bad thing?

Consider the alternative: Growing ranks of preparers, which is the most likely of scenarios as the U.S. tax code is set to become immensely more complicated, thanks to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Supreme Court's upholding of the law as constitutional.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, an organization that keeps track of the massive U.S. tax code, Obamacare contains 20 new or higher taxes on Americans, some of which have already taken effect. Those that most of us are likely to pay include fees and penalties imposed on hospitals (which will recoup them through higher fees), a tax on a new type of bio-fuel, new fees imposed on drug companies (which we will pay through higher medication costs), a tax on withdrawing funds from personal Health Savings Accounts, and a coming tax on health benefits contained on individual tax returns.

"Taxpayers are reminded that the President's healthcare law is one of the largest tax increases in American history," the group says on its website.

In fact, the law adds so many new layers of tax code that the Obama Administration is hiring 4,000 new IRS agents to handle the load.

Code manipulated to win influence and punish

But not all Americans are affected equally by our Byzantine tax code.

Bob Williams, a tax policy specialist at the nonpartisan Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, says the tax code is used and manipulated by Congress to win votes.

"There are lots and lots of" so-called "tax expenditures," he said. "We estimate they total more than a trillion dollars a year in reduced taxes, and in fact the bulk of those go to the top end of the income distribution."

But that doesn't mean they pay zero, Politifact.com notes. In fact, they generally pay more, even after the breaks.

"By contrast, popular lower and middle-income breaks such as child credits and mortgage interest deductions do get a big share of the population off the hook," says the site.

Conclusion: The U.S. tax code is complex for a reason - it has been utilized and exploited by successive Congresses and administrations to win votes and reward some groups of Americans, while punishing other groups.

Sources:

http://www.facethefactsusa.org

http://www.politifact.com

http://www.foxnews.com

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