Skip to comments.Americans Spend 6.6 Billion Hours on Taxes
Posted on 04/15/2005 8:13:39 AM PDT by Brilliant
WASHINGTON - People scurrying to meet tonight's tax deadline might consider this: It's taking you and your fellow Americans 6.6 billion hours to do all that paperwork. The basic tax return the Form 1040 filed by most people every year accounts for 1.6 billion hours.
The Internal Revenue Service furnished those statistics to the White House budget office, which keeps tabs on the government's bureaucratic demands. The budget office notes that tax work "towers over the entire paperwork burden for the rest of the federal government" and accounts for some 80 percent.
"If anything, those numbers are probably understated," said David Keating, president of the National Taxpayers Union, which reports annually on the increasing complexity and demands of tax returns.
"A lot more of the cost is just planning to do the tax-smart thing. That can actually take a lot more time than reporting what you've done," he said.
Tax returns must be postmarked by midnight tonight.
Sensitive to the demands that tax laws put on weary taxpayers, the IRS has seven people working full time to reduce the anguish for filers. The IRS Office of Taxpayer Burden Reduction looks for requirements that can be streamlined, reduced or eliminated under the law.
"We're trying to reduce unnecessary burden," said Michael Chesman, the office director.
Some of the burden cannot be avoided because it is a requirement of the tax laws. By attacking unnecessary burden, the office has shaved more than 200 million hours from tax paperwork since the office was created in 2001.
Chesman said the office plans next year to simplify the process for requesting an extension. The idea is to replace the current four-month, and subsequent two-month, deadline extensions with one simpler and automatic six-month extension.
Small changes can make a big difference. Letting more people use the simpler 1040 forms trimmed 5 million hours off the paperwork, for example. But the improvements are often swamped by the burdens associated with new tax laws. President Bush has enacted tax changes every year he has been in office.
For individuals wondering how long they will spend on tax forms, the taxpayers' group said it takes an estimated 26 hours and 48 minutes to prepare the Form 1040 and its most common supporting schedules. That includes keeping records, learning the law, preparing forms, copying and mailing.
That actually is less than last year, when taxpayers could have expected to spend 28 hours and 30 minutes on the same forms.
Tax preparation software has made the task more manageable for many. Where the IRS estimates it takes 13 hours to fill out the Form 1040 by hand, Julie Miller, spokeswoman for Intuit, said its TurboTax software can do the same work in two hours to four hours.
Kathy Burlison, director of tax implementation at H&R Block, said software makes individuals and paid preparers more confident they have not missed something. It also makes mistakes much easier to fix.
Nevertheless, the forms are not just a drain on people's free time, but on the productivity of the country, Keating said.
"That's a huge, dead weight burden, trying to discern the tax code, what it rewards most," he said. "If we turn the nation into a paper-shuffling, law-figuring-out country, no one actually gets anything done."
Anyone think this number is a little crazy?? Unless my math is wrong: 6.6 billion divided by 150,000,000 (total guess, I mean how any filings are actually made) equals an average of 44 hours per filing.
I call Bullshit.
The IRS is just giving lip service to its "customers". A 3% reduction in filing time over 5 years. Seven people on this mission. Forgive me if I'm not running to the roof to shout it across town.
good one Fiddlstix
Well, if you figure all the prep work that has to be done even before you get to filling in the boxes; research into the latest loopholes (or screwholes, whichever), I can see it. There's plenty of folks who can do it in 20 minutes, but there's plenty of others who can spend a month on it.
I only spent one hour on taxes.... and two hours cussing and swearing.
Do we count that as one hour, or three?
And some of us pay other's to do our taxes.
44 hours is really really extreme, as an AVERAGE. You have to figure 10% do it in 10 minutes (college kids etc). 20% send it to a consultant (2 hours).
I dunno, I just think the number is obnoxiously high. But you never know.
More tragically...Americans, collectively, will hand over nearly $2 trillion this year through the income tax
Nothign will happen until Americans make tax reform an election issue and most aren't interested.
That works out to almost 600 hours per taxpayer.
My husband said, "It only SEEMED like that long..."
[The Internal Revenue Code is] about 10 times the size of the Bible -- and unlike the Bible, contains no good news.
-- Don Nickles
Taxation, for example, is eternally lively; it concerns nine-tenths of us more directly than either smallpox or golf, and has just as much drama in it; moreover, it has been mellowed and made gay by as many gaudy, preposterous theories.
-- H.L. Mencken
If a client asks in any but an extreme case whether, in your opinion, his sale will result in capital gain, your answer should probably be, "I don't know, and no one else in town can tell you."
-- James L. Wood
Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.
-- Herbert Hoover
You must pay taxes. But there's no law that says you gotta leave a tip.
-- Morgan Stanley (Advertisement)
The term "tax humor" is no doubt an oxymoron to many people; to the more cynical, it is an apt description of the entire tax code.
-- John F. Iekel
A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter.
-- G.K. Chesterton
The government deficit is the difference between the amount of money the government spends and the amount it has the nerve to collect.
-- Sam Ewing
Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out almost as much in taxes alone as he formerly got in wages.
-- H.L. Mencken
Capital punishment: The income tax.
-- Jeff Hayes
The best things in life are free, but sooner or later the government will find a way to tax them.
A fool and his money are soon parted. It takes creative tax laws for the rest.
-- Bob Thaves
Loophole: To liberals, any provision of the tax code that fails to claim money earned, inherited, saved, or otherwise pocketed by known taxpayers.
-- The Conservative's Dictionary
I'm proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is -- I could be just as proud for half the money.
-- Arthur Godfrey
If you drive a car, I'll tax the street.
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat.
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.
Well, I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.
-- The Beatles ("Taxman")
Down to the Banana Republics
Down to the tropical sun
Go the expatriated Americans
Hopin' to find some fun
Some of them go for the sailing
Brought by the lure of the sea
Tryin' to find what is ailing
Living in the land of the free
Some of them are running to lovers
Leaving no forward address
Some of them are running tons of ganja
Some are running from the IRS.
-- Jimmy Buffett ("Banana Republics")
The tax man's taken all my dough
And left me in this stately home
Lazing on a sunny afternoon
And I can't even sail my yacht
He's taken everything I've got
All I got's this sunny afternoon.
-- Ray Davies ("Sunny Afternoon")
I love America, but I can't spend the whole year here. I can't afford the taxes.
-- Mick Jagger
Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.
-- Calvin Coolidge
The taxpayer -- that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take a civil service examination.
-- Ronald Reagan
Every time this country . . . has cut tax rates across the board, revenues went up and the economy grew.
-- Jack Kemp
Everyone who has anything to do with the tax code agrees it's just an unbelievable mess.
-- Paul H. O'Neill
[The federal income tax system is] a disgrace to the human race.
-- Jimmy Carter
We must care for each other more, and tax each other less.
-- Bill Archer
The hardest thing in the world to understand is the Income Tax.
-- Albert Einstein
Friends and neighbors complain that taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly.
-- Benjamin Franklin
Abracadabra, thus we learn The more you create, the less you earn. The less you earn, the more you're given, The less you lead, the more you're driven, The more destroyed, the more they feed, The more you pay, the more they need, The more you earn, the less you keep, And now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to take, If the tax-collector hasn't got it before I wake.
-- Ogden Nash
If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less, tax it.
-- Old Economic Adage
All taxes are a drag on economic growth. It's only a question of degree.
-- Alan Greenspan
I shall never use profanity except in discussing house rent and taxes . . . .
-- Mark Twain
The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government.
-- Barry M. Goldwater
There is no such thing as a good tax.
-- Winston Churchill
A 10 percent flat tax should be our goal. After all, back in Bible times, the people of Israel paid a "tithe" -- that is, a 10 percent flat tax -- to God. If God Himself only demands a tithe, who does Uncle Sam think he is, demanding more?
-- Michael Reagan
I do not believe that the government should ask social legislation in the guise of taxation. If we are to adopt socialism, it should be presented to the people of this country as socialism and not under the guise of a law to collect revenue.
-- Calvin Coolidge
The taxing power of government must be used to provide revenues for legitimate government purposes. It must not be used to regulate the economy or bring about social change. We've tried that, and surely we must be able to see it doesn't work.
-- Ronald Reagan
It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.
-- Dave Barry
I'm sick and tired of politicians beating up on the IRS. We have the best and fairest tax-collection system in the world.
-- Charles B. Rangel
Dear Mr. President, Internal Revenue regulations will turn us into a nation of bookkeepers. The life of every citizen is becoming a business. This, it seems to me, is one of the worst interpretations of the meaning of human life history has ever seen. Man's life is not a business.
-- Saul Bellow ("Herzog")
To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.
-- Thomas Jefferson
The ancient Egyptians built elaborate fortresses and tunnels and even posted guards at tombs to stop grave robbers. In today's America, we call that estate planning.
-- Bill Archer
A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-- George Bernard Shaw
What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.
-- Thomas Paine
In case you didn't know, ethanol is made by mixing corn with your tax dollars.
-- Paul A. Gigot
[T]here is nothing wrong with a strategy to avoid the payment of taxes. The Internal Revenue Code doesn't
-- William H. Rehnquist
There is only one way to kill capitalism-by taxes,taxes,and more taxes.
When a government is just,taxes are few-Thomas Paine
The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it. -- P.J. O'Rourke
And that still doesn't cover what Congress spends. We need the Balanced Budget Amendment.
I paid a little over $80,000 in income taxes this year and it hurts. Line 41 on the 1040 form concerning exemptions ticks me off:
"If line 37 is $107,025 or less, multiply $3,100 by the total number of exemptions claimed on line 6D. If line 37 is over $107,025, see the worksheet in the intstructions."
Just because my adjusted gross income is over $107,025...GEEZ OH PEAS...never mind. It's April 15. I forgot that it's penalize the hard working guy day. Stick it to him hard to remind him that his family doesn't count as much as the income challenged folks.
I find it ridiculous how our tax code penalize the family. First it was the marriage penalty tax. And if you or your spouse stays at home to care for your children instead of working, you get nothing. I have no qualms with that. But if you pay for someone to watch your children while you or your spouse works then you get a child care tax break. On top of that if your adjusted gross income is over $107,025 the number of dependents you claim as exemptions counts for less than if you made less that amount. Once more, the American family gets backstabbed by our gov't.
The two agencies that redistribute great fortunes are taxation and offspring.