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View Diary: The algebra formula that saved an industry (258 comments)

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  •  Another [timely] use of "math" (5+ / 0-)

    It never ceases to surprise me how many people think they need to plop down $100 to H&R to get their taxes done for a basic return.  Once you've gathered all your documents (which you have to do anyway, with or without a tax preparer), the forms take all of an hour to fill in if you're doing just the typical itemized deductions.  Yet, people complain about how hard it is to compute what 6.85% of line 23 is.

    You may need a tax preparer to find more exotic deductions, but most people who use one have plain vanilla returns.

    •  If you're childless and renting, (4+ / 0-)

      (which generally means you won't be itemizing), you can do the 1040EZ which only takes 5-10 minutes.

    •  It takes a whole day to prepare our taxes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, zephron, Larsstephens

      and I'm a mathematician.  And no, we have nothing exotic, just consulting income.

      The tax code is a scandal. Not the math, but the endless nested if-thens that each represent a vested interest.  I mean, why should income from fishing, or ministers from this or that faith, be treated differently from any other income or profession?

      In the Bush I years, when newspapers still did those things, there was a two-page expose in the NYTimes about how the first family actually paid LESS taxes, percentwise, than a salaried employee earning 30 or 40k a year. I forget the details, but two things stuck out: both were paying about 10% of their income in tax, in spite of a "progressive" tax code; and the Bushes were able to, for instance, choose a low-tax state (Texas) as their "residence" in spite of spending 0% of the year there.

      Of course they had all sorts of tax shelters and creative instruments which are not available to the less well-to-do.

      Ever since I've felt that the tax code needs to be drastically simplified, most if not all exemptions and shelters eliminated, and transparency restored.  I'm not quite a flat taxer, but in practice, a flat 20% tax on the first 250k of income minus a 10k/person exemption, followed by a flat 50% tax on all earnings past 250k, would be a lot saner, simpler and even more progressive than what we have now.

      Silvio Levy

    •  I suspect part of that is simply uncertainty (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      People are daunted by their taxes, no matter how simple it may be. They know if they make a mistake it could be costly, so it freaks them out.

      That $100 provides a little comfort that at least an "expert" has looked at their 1040S and said, "looks good".

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