Ease The Pain--Simplify The Tax Structure
For millions of people, today, April 15, is perhaps the most feared and reviled day in the American calendar. For the past three months law-abiding citizens have sweated over the Form 1040 income tax return and its appurtenances or paid tax preparers to complete the return for them. All the anxiety and effort culminates at midnight tonight, the time by which all returns must be postmarked to avoid various penalties.
We do not dispute the necessity of local, state and federal governments to raise the funds they need to operate through legal means. Government, as we have said in this space on several occasions, has two responsibilities from which all other functions follow—protecting the populace and maintaining the infrastructure. Police, firefighters, standing armies and the road crews that fill potholes and trim the grass along the interstates, to cite only a few examples, must be paid. In all the years since humans first came together to form some sort of community, this has been true and taxes have been recognized as among the most obvious ways for governments to raise the money to pay for civil services. No one we know like taxes, although there is no argument that governmental activities, like everything else, cost money, money that has to come from somewhere.
The process and procedure involved in calculating and paying federal income tax is one reason April 15 is regarded as a day which continues to live in infamy. Filing a return for most people is an unfathomably complicated process that seems to involve every aspect of daily life, from the simple act of inhaling and exhaling on up. Living in one state and working in another, buying or selling property, capital gains, exceptions, exemptions, deductions, reductions— all these sometimes have even experienced tax return preparation specialists left shaking their heads.
It seems to us that the whole business of making out a tax return, especially on the federal level, is far more complicated than it needs to be. There are reasons for the number of different forms, but surely some can be combined or consolidated and surely someone versed in devising such forms can revise them to make them more efficient and less confusing. As loyal American citizens we do not shirk our duty to support the government we believe is the freest and best in the world, no matter our opinion of some of the people currently holding office. We do not think it would lessen our patriotic fervor in the least, however, if the way we pay for that government were made a little less complicated and therefore a lot less painful.