July 27, 2017

Bills, bills, bills. Credit: Pictures of Money / Flickr Creative Commons

If there’s one thing Americans can agree on, it’s this: we hate doing taxes. We spend a whopping 60 billion hours a year on them - 30 hours for the average person. But, in many other countries, filing taxes only takes 15 or 30 minutes. And hardly anyone hires an accountant or buys tax prep software. Worst of all, despite the fact that we devote more time and money to taxes, our tax system is not nearly as fair and efficient as those in many other countries.

T.R. Reid, author of “A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System,” says the American government has the ability to fix the tax system, but it’s going to take some big changes.

Three Takeaways 

  • According to Reid, a major problem with America’s current tax system is that it has too many loopholes and deductions, which tend to favor the wealthy. To fix it, Reid says, we should copy other countries and get rid of our many exemptions, even the popular ones like the mortgage interest deduction. Without all of the giveaways, we could lower rates for everyone.
  • The U.S. government could, basically, do the taxes of 75 to 80 percent of American families. The idea, called “pre-filled forms,” has been repeatedly introduced in Congress and is supported by members of both parties. But tax preparers like H&R Block and Intuit, maker of TurboTax, lobby against it.
  • Is the American government on its way to making our tax system more equal? Reid says that roughly every 32 years, the system gets too complicated and must be revamped. And the next 32-year mark is approaching in 2018.

More reading 

IRS, Business, T.R. Reid, taxes

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