We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
According to our hypotheses, the tax code is equally open to all. Does the average citizen have the time and expertise to plow through 70,000 pages of tax codes? Clearly, the answer is no, so it's simply not true that the tax code is equally available to all.
Let's imagine a different set of values and governance. Let's suppose the tax law stated that the entire tax code must meet two requirements: it must be able to be read and understood by the overwhelming majority of citizens with a high school education in one hour or less.
The national labs (or equivalent impartial bodies) would be tasked with conducting a randomized sampling of 100,000 citizens to test each year's tax code. If 80% of the adult citizenry with a high school education (or GED) were unable to put the tax code into practice after an hour of study, then the code would be rejected and sent back to Congress for revision until it passed this simple, transparent standard for equality before the law.
Clearly, the tax code is both legal and completely skewed to the very wealthy and politically powerful. $100,000 is still a fairly significant contribution in politics, and if that contribution ends up yielding a tax break that gains the donor $1 million in lower taxes, then that donation earned a 10-fold "return on investment."
Only the wealthy can afford to hire Panzer divisions of tax attorneys to pore over the 70,00 pages and game the system to pay less than self-employed citizens pay in Social Security and Medicare tax, never mind income tax.
The first hypothesis is still vaild--the tax code is legal--but the second--that fundamental opportunities are open to all--is demonstrably false. Equal opportunity is revealed as a social control myth promoted by those benefitting from opportunities that are not available to the citizenry at large.
This is the definition of an oligarchy.
All that the regular person can do is to declare all of their income (unless you are somebody like Tim Geithner or Charlie Rangel - hey, nobody is perfect). After that, it's a crap shoot.
Our tax code makes taxes little more than a bribe for most of us. With no phalanx of lawyers to find the exceptions, we've no choice but pay what they say and hope they let us go on our way unmolested.
There is the whole industry that advertises this time of year to make you feel you are being cheated when you pay your tax.
Government would be wise to keep the taxes low, as we see with the wealthy, after a certain dollar level, not percentage, it becomes fruitful both fiscally and emotionally to spend time and money on lowering the bribe.
'They' make the rules and we are forced to 'Play the Game'. Somewhat like watching a sporting event and screaming at the referee for a bad call except the price of admission is really the cost of escape.
If the tax court were to apply the test of "disparate impact" to the IRC (based on income/wealth and ready access to an army of tax attorneys) that state and federal courts apply to discrimination and other civil cases, we could clean up this mess in short order.
If, if, we WANT to clean up corruption in this country, then a fairly safe way to do that is to come to an agreement on "corruption" what is corrupt and what is not corrupt. If, it is ok for derivatives traders to hide information than it is ok for me and you. The place to begin to clear up corruption is with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. See how easy that was. . .?
Oh please, oh please, give Ron Paul a look. Go to his web site, click on issues and see if you disagree with anything. Our government is way out of control. The tax system is what one gets when the government has its tentacles in EVERYTHING.
I have long believed that the most effective tax relief would be one that required every elected representative and senator to do his income taxes, PERSONALLY AND BY HAND, with no more assistance than a box of pencils and a 4-function calculator and the published IRS manuals. No software, no accountants, no assistance.
Any errors in calculating his/her taxes would be grounds for impeachment and removal from office.
The fundamental problem is that our rich overlords a.) don't have to know the rules, and b.) don't have to FOLLOW the rules.