...a soapbox rant.
According to TurboTax, which (whom?) I have no reason to doubt, my effective tax rate is just over seven percent. This is quite reasonable. And yet preparing my taxes is so, so irritating, reasonable tax rate notwithstanding. Just having to keep track of all my charitable donation information, remembering work-related expenses, checking unreimbursed medical expenses against my AGI, etc., is frustrating; I can't imagine if I had stock sales or a home business or something. I would rather pay a straight ten percent--no deductions, no credits, just a straight tithe. I'm willing to pay more than I otherwise would have to (and next year our tax liability will be even less, thanks to FH going part time to go back to school) in exchange for a clear, understandable system of taxation.
Consider all the rich people that supposedly don't pay much in taxes because of loopholes or donations or whatever they're doing (and could someone please show me how?). They'd still pay ten percent. It's the perfect sliding scale: make more, pay more. Make less, pay less.
It would be easy to make exceptions for the lower-income people, if the politicians insist. Credit it back to them if they make less than whatever threshold amount you set. Or just make the first however many dollars untaxed for everyone!
But what about all the accountants? people always ask. Businesses still need accountants. People still need financial planning advice. It's not like they have no marketable skills besides preparing taxes. And think of all the money we'd save on audits and enforcement and people staffing the IRS helplines, not to mention the estimated 1.8 billion hours small businesses spend trying to figure out and comply with the tax code every year.
The original income tax form was three pages and had one page of instructions. (My favorite part is the deduction for losses sustained in a shipwreck.) Now we have over 17,000 pages of tax code. Seventeen thousand. Clearly, there's something wrong there.