The President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, chaired by Paul Volcker, has published a report on simplifying the tax system. It’s a pity the board was not asked to come up with recommendations for a comprehensive makeover. Confining themselves to their more limited mandate, they set out a range of simplifying options, which is useful but not as useful as a reform blueprint. Anybody who fills in a US tax return each April understands something of the problem of needless complexity but for the benefit of others, below is the board’s view of some provisions related to families with children. It’s a lot to read — but that’s the point, isn’t it.
If I were a progressive keen to reduce American resistance to expanded government, by the way, I would have two initial priorities: tax simplification, and a Race to the Top scheme to reward states that renew drivers’ licenses in the 10 minutes it should take rather than the three hours it takes in places like Washington DC (whose DMV arranges things so you have to stand in line to stand in line to get a number to stand in line: that’s three lines to reach the official who tells you there’s a problem). Isn’t it obvious that encounters with these sadistic systems are worth tens of millions of votes a year for small-government candidates?