The University of New Hampshire Law Review


[Excerpt] "Cries for tax simplification have long been heard from presidents, legislators, current and former government officials and the public. The judiciary has often expressed its frustrations in comprehending the tax statutes. The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) itself has had occasion to hesitate and waver in its interpretation and application of the tax statutes, and indeed, several IRS officials have admitted to retaining professional assistance to prepare their personal income tax returns.

Though nearly everyone seems to advocate tax simplification, the goal remains elusive. Tax litigation continues to abound, and sometimes, where words alone do not suffice, judges augment textual opinions with graphic illustration in order to effectively elucidate their decisions. The tax statutes and regulation books continue to grow ever more voluminous, and the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”)10 is replete with sections containing exceptions to the stated rule and to the listed exceptions. Not included in the Code proper, however, are several uncodified revenue statutes of significant importance. A single transaction often gives rise to liability for diverse types of taxes.

Several factors conjunctively operate to make and keep our tax system complex. By way of specific examples, this article will discuss some of the dynamics that impede and counteract the tax simplification efforts of the executive and the legislative branches. In doing so, the author does not purport that the cases, statutes, regulations or reports chosen for discussion are the only such examples. Nor does the author intend to woodenly impose any classification system, for the forces at work against tax simplification often appear in many guises and are susceptible to diverse analyses and classifications; moreover, they often interact synergistically with one another. The author seeks here to advance the scholarly and practical understanding as to why taxation continues to resist simplification, by way of identifying and describing the actions of forces that complicate the taxation process."

Repository Citation

Kenneth H. Ryesky, Tax Simplification: So Necessary and So Elusive, 2 Pierce L. Rev. 93 (2004), available at http://scholars.unh.edu/unh_lr/vol2/iss2/4

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Tax Law Commons