A tax farewell

Tom Herman has covered the tax beat for the Wall Street Journal since 1993, and he's done a terrific job, a true professional. I have been an avid reader of his stories, and I learned a lot from him. He's now leaving the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper he's worked at since 1968. Good for him. Bad for us.

His last column is well worth reading. A highlight:

But I also leave with a growing sense that our tax system is in shaky condition and needs a major overhaul. We need a system that is much simpler and less burdensome. That won't happen with mere tinkering around the edges. Many people who have held top jobs at the IRS and Treasury agree. Our federal tax system is "so shot through with deductions, credits, exclusions, loopholes and outright noncompliance that it fails in its essential job of raising revenues efficiently," says Charles Rossotti, a former IRS Commissioner. "The complexity and instability of the tax system also leads people to believe that the average person always gets stuck, while the big hitters find ways to avoid paying, regardless of the advertised tax rates."

As Will Rogers once observed about tax forms: "Even when you make one out on the level, you don't know when it's through if you are a crook or a martyr."

Reform the tax code--now.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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