Where’s the 5-minute tax form?
posted at 12:55 pm on April 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
John Merline makes the jump from AOL to Investors Business Daily with this look at a campaign promise from Barack Obama that has gone not only unfulfilled but unacknowledged. On Tax Day, Obama promised during the campaign, taxpayers would soon be able to do their own taxes in just five minutes with a simplified form. More than two years later, following a Congress which his own party entirely controlled, not only has that not come to pass, but Obama hasn’t even attempted to fulfill that pledge:
When Barack Obama was running for president, he promised voters a simpler tax code. “When I’m president,” he said, “we’ll put in place a system where 40 million Americans . .. can do their taxes in less than five minutes.”
But President Obama hasn’t made good on that promise. Not only is there no five-minute tax form, but since he took office the byzantine tax code has grown increasingly complex. This year, it will take the average taxpayer 23 hours just to fill out form 1040 — up from 21 hours last year, according to the IRS. It now takes seven hours to fill out the so-called 1040 EZ.
Only in Washington could someone name a form that takes seven hours to complete the “EZ” version.
It’s not as if Obama hasn’t had opportunities to pursue tax reform, either. He had the entirety of the 111th Session of Congress, with its large Democratic majorities, to pass a simplification of the tax code. Not only would such an effort breezed through Congress, Obama would likely have picked up significant Republican support, making his claims of post-partisanship much more credible. Taxpayers would have loved it, and Democrats would likely have at least held control of the House in the midterms, or perhaps even expanded their majorities. The Tea Party might not have caught the imagination of grassroots activists.
Instead, Obama chose to pursue ObamaCare, and his electoral disaster soon followed. Even late in the game, though, after ObamaCare passed, Obama had a perfect opening to return to the tax code issue, as Merline points out:
A year ago, he promised to “make it easier, quicker and less expensive for you to file a return” and ordered his Economic Recovery Advisory Board to find ways to simplify the code. …
But Obama hasn’t done much more than talk about the issue. The advisory board report went nowhere, and the president hasn’t pushed his five-minute tax idea since taking office.
Just as with the deficit commission, Obama called the panel into being and then ignored its recommendations. They existed for one purpose — to provide political cover for Obama’s efforts on reform. Why set the expectation by creating the panels just to waste the opportunity to get something accomplished? That’s especially true when it comes to an effort that most people would welcome with open arms.
Instead of talking simplification, Obama talks about eliminating deductions, a notion that’s highly unpopular. Whatever political magic and skill Obama might have once had has abandoned him in office, and in this case the failure is all but inexplicable.