NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 16, 2014

Our view: Congress should simplify 'Tax Day'

(Continued)

Leubsdorf notes that one promising reform proposal from Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan wilted on the vine. Camp proposed setting three tax rates (15 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent), reducing corporate taxes, placing an excise tax on banks, repealing state and local tax deductions and placing an income ceiling on mortgage interest and charitable contribution deductions.

Bankers and real estate agents lined up in opposition. Democrats and Republicans alike objected to parts of the reform and the status quo was maintained.

Every new line of the tax code is the result of some special interest pleading for some benefit or relief from some perceived burden. The challenge facing any attempt at tax reform is to craft legislation that serves the interest of the nation and the majority of its people, not those of narrow special interests.

Massachusetts has a relatively simple income tax code, with few deductions. Exemptions are in place to protect low-income earners. It is not a perfect system, but it is fairly easy for the average citizen to understand. It could be a model for the type of system that the federal government should adopt.

Americans spend billions of dollars and consume untold hours to prepare their tax returns. All that time and money serves no productive purpose; it is pure waste. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. Taxes for most individual Americans are relatively uncomplicated and could be filed in minutes on a postcard-sized document. Simpler tax calculations for small businesses and corporation would allow those enterprises to focus on their core purposes, not dodging tax liabilities.

Tax reform would stimulate business growth, improve productivity and make the financial lives of individual Americans easier. The only real obstacle is the lack of courage and cooperation among our elected officials in Washington.

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