Apr 17, 2017
While many, if not most farmers have their income taxes prepared by an accountant or service, some of us still wade through the schedules and forms in the comfort of our own homes.
To be sure, tax preparation software like Intuit's TurboTax has been a huge leap forward, but this annual exercise still has some challenges.
There is intense interest in Washington to reform federal taxes of all kinds - from the income tax to corporate taxes and estate taxes. It's been over thirty years since major tax reform was last done, and the reason why is already apparent.
Every one of those thousands of pages in the tax code we complain about has a reason for being there, and a constituency attached.
Taxes are complicated because people and business are complicated and we constantly tweak and fiddle with the tax laws. Simplification may make sense but we are all reluctant to simplify away any special deals we may get in the current code.
Doing away with the state and local tax deduction may sound logical if you live in Texas with no state income tax, but not if you live in Minnesota with a whopping one.
But another major reason tax reform will be really hard is right behind me. The tax preparation industry is lobbying hard with big bucks to prevent it.
Intuit alone has spent millions. If people could file their taxes on a postcard, or have the government do it for them - both of which suggested goals of reform - the tax prep industry would be much smaller and far less profitable.
I try to remember for every headache in life, somebody usually makes a living selling a cure.