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February 7, 2023

Wyden You Go Blaming Tax Professionals for a Crappy Tax Code?

Earlier this month, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a report titled “How Tax Pros Make the Code Less Fair and Efficient.” Prior to publication, the report’s working title was “I Think Accountants Will Still Vote for Me Even if I Tell Them to Go Fuck Themselves.”
What’s really weird is that, apart from the title, the report never even mentions tax professionals; he indirectly shits on tax professionals through his derision of sophisticated tax-planning tools. He thinks (rightly so) that vehicles like collars, wash sales, derivatives, basket options, and deferred compensation help wealthy people avoid taxes. These strategies are generally unavailable to schmucks like you and me due to prohibitive transaction costs and professional fees for the lawyers and accountants needed to execute the transactions and babysit them over time.
What Sen. Wyden is really pissed about is that a highly-paid, well-trained army of smart people have found and exploited the weaknesses of a tax code that was made unnecessarily complex by a highly-lobbied, perversely-incentivized horde of politicians.
A U.S. Senator blaming the inequity and complexity of the tax code on tax professionals is like Chris Martin blaming Coldplay’s shitty music on his fans’ ability to detect shitty music.
Some great comments emerged on the Internet in reaction to the report. For instance…
In the words of Judge Learned Hand, one of the most influential judges in U.S. history, "Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes."
Interestingly, Judge Learned Hand is a real person and not a co-conspirator with Boss Hogg to get those Duke boys. Learned’s parents hated his brother even more and showed it by naming him Invisible. From 1924 to 1961, Learned Hand was a U.S. District Court judge. That was one of many jobs he had in his lifetime. District Court Judge was just one specific Learned Hand job.
Another commenter had a great idea. 
If you want to simplify the code, make members of Congress prepare their own returns.
Perfect! Of course that will never happen, but it feels good to think about it. 
So Senator Wyden, when you shit the bed, it’s not okay to say that accountants snuck into your house and shit your bed. And maybe if we made you spend the rest of the night sleeping in that bed, you and the rest of Congress would figure out a way to un-shit a bed.

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