Photo credit: Ken Teegardin via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

7 Reasons Why the US Tax System Is Beyond Horrible


Happy Tax Day! In commemoration of Americans’ least favorite day of the year, here are seven reasons why everyone is perfectly justified for hating tax season:

1.) Americans spend way too much time and money filing their taxes.

According to the Tax Foundation, Americans spend over 3.24 billion hours and $37 billion filing their individual and business taxes each year. To put that in perspective, 3.24 billion hours ago I’m pretty sure there were dinosaurs around or something.

2.) The IRS has a history of being used to punish and intimidate freedom-loving organizations.

Remember in 2013 when it was discovered that the IRS had been targeting conservative organizations? That’s not new or even unique. In fact, the IRS has a history of punishing and intimidating groups that are opposed to the sitting president. FDR used the IRS to go after newspapers that were opposed to his “New Deal,” Nixon used them to target his political opponents, and even JFK used them to target groups like the American Enterprise Institute.

3.) There are 79,000 employees who work for the IRS. That’s a lot.

According to Wikipedia, as of 2015 the IRS employed over 79,000 people. That might not sound like a lot – after all they are overseeing $3.5 trillion in revenues and around 169 million returns – however, Facebook, which claims 1.8 billion accounts, employs only 17,000 people.

4.) There are 74,000 pages in the US Tax Code.

In 1913, there were only 400 pages in the US tax code. By the time FDR had pushed through the enormous government expansion known as the New Deal – it had grown to a measly 504 pages. The tax code has grown almost 50,000 pages since 1984 and now checks in at over 74,608.

5.) The IRS is renowned for its poor customer service.

The common theme of this piece is that the IRS is enormous, overly complicated, and outdated. It should come as no surprise, then, that their customer service isn’t any different.

For example, their website (which looks like it was made in 2001) doesn’t even have a mobile version – even though 71 percent of online use in the U.S. now takes place on mobile devices.

And what happens if you choose to contact them via even more outdated methods – such as by telephone? You’re probably not any better off, as 35 percent of calls to the IRS go unanswered.

6.) You don’t make enough money to pay your tax bill until April 23rd.

According to the Tax Foundation, Americans don’t make enough to pay their total tax bill until April 23rd. That’s 8 days after your taxes are due!

7.) The IRS collects more than $5.1 trillion every year.

According to the Tax Foundation, while the Federal government collects over $3.5 trillion in taxes each year, State and Local governments collect over $1.6 trillion. That’s over $5.1 trillion each year in taxes. It’s more than Americans are expected to spend on food, clothing, and shelter this year ($4.4 trillion).

Photo credit: Ken Teegardin via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Terry Schilling

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.

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