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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Pages in the tax code over time...

I promised to search around for some information on the number of pages in the U.S. Tax Code. Unfortunately, I was successful and the news isn't pretty.



Number of pages in 2004? 60,044!!

I found the graph in an interesting article by the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI)

(Update 11/18/04: Curtis leaves an interesting comment that the high page count includes IRS decisions, etc. It seems he is correct - Here is the code on-line and it doesn't seem to be 60,000 pages long.)

Comments:
To be fair, that includes the code, regulations, and IRS rulings. Most of that information would never be read by individuals filing their taxes, because it isn't needed.

I didn't know anything about the tax code before taking a Federal Income Tax course in law school. In it I realized that the tax code is actually a very simple thing. The hype about how complicated it is is a little overblown.

Most people would need to fill out a ezform and be done with their taxes in an hour.

Now, partnership and corporations have a more difficult time with their taxes and probably do need a lawyer or accountant who understands the regulations and IRS rulings.
 
I am sure that for the most part the tax code is not important for most people. Even with a regular 1040 tax form I am able to do my taxes in an evening.

My point, and that of others, is that each of the pages, regardless of how many there are, represent various exemptions and loopholes that are extremely narrowly targeted.

Here is the code online... it isn't 50,000 pages but it is long.
 
Interesting graph! After reading the comments to your post, I tried graphing a different measure of tax complexity--the amount of time needed to fill out your tax forms. Not as dramatic as your graph, but it still shows increasing complexity. You can see it here: http://aconstrainedvision.blogspot.com/2004/11/measuring-tax-complexity.html
 
My point, and that of others, is that each of the pages, regardless of how many there are, represent various exemptions and loopholes that are extremely narrowly targeted.
 
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