WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in support of the Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act:
“Today, as millions of Americans prepare to file their federal income tax returns by midnight, many will be confounded, confused and, yes, perhaps even cranky because of our unbelievably complicated tax code.
“Our tax code is a maze of complexity that creates confusion and, yes, unfairness. In fact, between 2001 and 2006 – when Republicans controlled the Congress and the White House – they added more than 10,000 pages to the Internal Revenue Code and regulations. It now takes people an average of 34 hours to complete a 1040 long form. And, it’s no wonder that 62 percent of Americans rely on a tax professional to prepare their returns.
“The Democratic Majority has been focused for years on making our tax code fairer and simpler – and doing so in a fiscally responsible way. But this issue also demands presidential leadership.
“We know that from experience. The last real tax reform occurred 22 years ago when President Reagan and Dan Rostenkowski, then Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, came together to streamline our tax code.
“When a new President takes office in January 2009, I believe that this should be an issue near the top of the agenda – particularly an effort to reform the dreaded alternative minimum tax.
“Now today, we will consider the ‘Taxpayer Assistance and Simplification Act,’ which makes small, but important reforms to our tax code. Among other things, this bill will:
• strengthen taxpayer protections from identity theft and tax fraud,
• expand assistance for low-income taxpayers, and
• end the private collection of federal income taxes.
“Just this morning, the Washington Post reported that the Internal Revenue Service expects to lose more than $37 million by using private debt collectors to pursue tax scofflaws. That’s right. Private companies hired to collect tax revenue that the IRS does not have the resources to pursue actually cost the federal government – i.e., taxpayers – more than they bring in.
“Furthermore, let me say that there clearly is something wrong with our tax code when the costs of non-compliance – the so-called ‘tax gap’ – is an estimated $345 billion a year. The reality is, this tax gap is only going to be narrowed and closed when we get serious about real tax reform.
“But until that day, we must do what we can to make our tax laws fairer and simpler. This legislation is an important step in that regard.
“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote for this bill, and, in the months ahead, to come together – like we did in 1986 – in support of real tax reform.”