Taxing Matters

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 17, 2006 1:26 PM

It's Tax Day, folks. The kids down at the H&R Block have been sitting in the same seats long enough to be grafted to them. The 18-wheeler parked behind each branch is empty of its 4-month supply of Red Bull.

The interns have run down to the 7-11 to replenish the supply before the creepy, seat-grafted, sleep-deprived accountants start pursuing them, waddling and rolling after them ever faster in their office chairs, their digits made sharp and nimble by calculator calisthenics.

Right, and our tax code doesn't need to be simplified? Please. How many interns have to be brutally scratched before we change the system, people?

Andy Roth has the Club for Growth Daily News for today, which is chock full of tax griping.

The Tax Foundation has found that while it may be Tax Day, you'll have to wait a little longer for Tax Freedom Day, which falls on April 26 this year. That's right-- you spend 4 months working for the federal government and the rest of the year working for yourself. Feel good? It also means the government gives us less time to do our taxes than we spend paying them off. That doesn't seem fair.

The National Taxpayers Union pulls together these depressing stats about lost productivity during tax season:

  • The 1040 tax form with common Schedules A, D, and others will take the average taxpayer 37.8 hours to prepare this year – with the assistance of a computer! Even the so- called “short” form will take more than half a day (12.6 hours) to complete.
  • Self-employed taxpayers filing the 1040 with small business schedules face an 80.2-hour completion task – the equivalent of two weeks’ paid vacation.
  • For the second year in a row, roughly 9 out of 10 filers in 2006 appear to be using a paid preparer and/or a computer for assistance in filing their tax returns.
  • As of March 15, H&R Block’s average per-client fee stood at $154.24, a 6.3 percent jump from the same period last year.


  • Today, taxpayers must wade through 142 pages of instructions for the standard 1040 form and schedules, up from 128 pages last year, and more than double the number in 1985 – the year before taxes were “simplified.” These estimates are probably too low since they ignore the countless hours spent on tax minimization strategies.
  • The total number of paperwork hours imposed by the Department of the Treasury exceeds 6.4 billion hours (most of which are IRS-related). Despite agency regulatory actions in Fiscal Year 2004 that reduced the paperwork mountain by 137 million hours, statutory changes by Congress piled 101 million hours back onto taxpayers.
  • Here's the President's Tax Day radio address:

    So far, the tax relief I signed has left $880 billion with America's workers and small business owners and families, and you have used that money to fuel an economic resurgence. Our economy has added jobs for 31 months in a row, creating more than 5.1 million new jobs for American workers. And the unemployment rate is now down to 4.7 percent, below the average rate for each of the past four decades. Real after-tax income per person has grown by more than 8 percent since I took office. And that means, on average, Americans have an income that is $2,100 higher this year than it was at the beginning of 2001, after adjusting for inflation.

    The death tax is up for a vote in May and the American Family Business Institute is working on a TV campaign.

    Hey, no wonder they're so bad at spending our money wisely.

    And, the NTU blog has a few more tax facts for today.