13 troubling facts about U.S. taxes and the tax code

13 troubling facts about U.S. taxes and the tax code

If you’re reading this, rather than feverishly poring over columns of numbers in 6-point type, chances are you’ve finished your 2014 taxes. If on the other hand you’re just procrastinating, be mindful that you may have a long way to go. The U.S. tax code is nearly 4 million words long. Here’s some other facts and figures to mull over.

1.  In 1913 the U.S. tax code was 400 pages and the 1040 form was 4 pages long. Today the U.S. tax code fills more than 75,000 pages, 3.9 million words, and the 1040 form is 206 pages long. That’s over twice the length of the King James Bible plus the entire works of Shakespeare, combined.  The Obama administration is responsible for about 10% of the total code (including a 10% tax on tanning).

2.  Before 1913, the same year the Federal Reserve was created, there was never a U.S. income tax (excluding to pay for the Civil War). This first income tax was 1% with the highest bracket at 7%.

3.  Complying with United States tax code is near mathematically impossible. In 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals prepare the same tax return, representative of an average US family. All 46 came up with a different result.

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4.  In 2009, PC World prepared the same tax return with 5 of the top tax preparation software programs. All five came up with a different result.

5.  Also in 2009, then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was exposed for filing an improperly prepared tax return. He used Turbo Tax and the error was due to a misunderstanding by both him and his accountant.

6.  The United States and Eritrea are the only countries in the world to tax their citizens on income earned abroad.

7.  The International Monetary Fund estimates that Americans hide 18 trillion dollars in banks abroad to avoid paying taxes.

8.  The National Taxpayers Union found the U.S. economy lost $224 billion and 6.1 billion hours of productivity last year “due to the burden of compliance with a complex and invasive tax code.”

9.  The U.S. tax army of 1.2 million tax professionals is more than the total manpower of the U.S. Army, including active duty, reserves, and national guard.

10.  The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 39.1%. According to a 2009 study by Forbes, New York City had the highest corporate tax rate of any city in the world.

11.  General Electric, Boeing, and Verizon are just 3 examples of U.S. companies with huge profits that have paid no federal income tax. In 2009, Bank of America, after receiving a bailout from the U.S. taxpayer, made $4.4 billion in profit and paid zero federal income tax. Last year Goodyear Tire, Royal Caribbean, and Wynn Resorts were among the list of S&P 500 companies to make billions in profits and pay no federal income taxes. If you’re confused, fact 12 explains why.

12.  In 1945 corporate income tax revenue accounted for 40% of total federal revenues. Today this number is 12%, showing how many corporations have left the United States area of taxation due to high taxation. Instead of simplifying and lowering corporate taxes, Obama’s plan is to tax U.S. companies’ overseas profits.

13.  A 2012 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that during the week before the typical April 15th tax deadline, fatal car crashes increased 6%, relative to the week prior.

Happy Tax Day.

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Citizen Liberty

Citizen Liberty

Citizen Liberty is a perpetual traveler originally from the New York City area. His columns also appear at his blog Citizen Liberty.


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