Complying with Tax Code Costing Billions of Hours

The Heartland Institute crunched the numbers and discovered that — contrary to popular opinion — taxes really stink.

U.S. Treasury Department paperwork, some 90 percent of which consists of personal and business income tax forms, imposes a burden of 7.75 billion hours on Americans. That’s equal to 3.7 million employees working 40-hour weeks year-round without vacation, according to NTU’s study—more than are employed at the five biggest Fortune 500 companies combined.

Individual taxpayers will spend about 3.8 billion hours complying with income tax laws this year—up from 3.6 billion hours last year. This time is worth $110.6 billion. They’ll also spend an estimated $29.33 billion for tax software, tax preparers, postage, and other direct out-of-pocket costs.

The cost of paperwork time burdens for corporations facing the federal income tax (3.2 billion hours) adds up to $159.4 billion—equivalent to 54 percent of corporate income taxes collected in FY 2008. The expense is generally passed along to consumers, employees, and shareholders.

My sardonic intro aside, I think we’d all agree that taxes are a necessary cost of order, but could there be a simpler way as to prevent so many man hours dedicated simply to compliance?