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David Brin proposes using a computer model to simplify the U.S. tax code

The United States tax code is a thing of wonderment in its insane complexity. But what if we could massively simplify the code — without changing anybody's tax burden? David Brin, author of the Uplift novels, has a suggestion.

Writing in the Daily Kos, Brin suggests a "no losers" revamp of the tax code, that eliminates tons of provisions but ensures that the net result will not change the tax situation for 100 representative classes of Americans. You could model the tax code on a computer, and program it to eliminate excess provisions without causing any major changes to tax liabilities. Writes Brin:

There is nothing on Earth like the US tax code. It is an extremely complex system that nobody understands well. But it is unique among all the complex things in the world, in that it's complexity is perfectly replicated by the MATHEMATICAL MODEL of the system. Because the mathematical model is the system.

Hence, one could put the entire US tax code into a spare computer somewhere, try a myriad inputs, outputs... and tweak every parameter to see how outputs change. There are agencies who already do this, daily, in response to congressional queries. Alterations of the model must be tested under a wide range of boundary conditions (sample taxpayers.) But if you are thorough, the results of the model will be the results of the system.

Now. I'm told (by some people who know about such things) that it should be easy enough to create a program that will take the tax code and cybernetically experiment with zeroing-out dozens, hundreds of provisions while sliding others upward and then showing, on a spreadsheet, how these simplifications would affect, say, one-hundred representative types of taxpayers.


Check out the rest of his fascinating proposal at the link. [The Daily Kos via PopSci]

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The tax code has only been re-codified like 2 or 3 times, but new provisions are added every year and for good cause. I won't lie, Tax Class, was the hardest accounting class for me because of all the rules. The rules are there not to be complex, but to be fair. They are in place because somebody found a way to unfairly decrease their tax burden and so a new rule had to be put into place to eliminate some form of a tax shelter.

The IRS and Treasury don't want to rob you of unfair taxes, or be overly complex, but if has to be complex enough and only wants you to pay what you owe. The tax code is in excellent shape.

With that said, although it won't affect the actual code, the rates could be changed a little bit(and while it would change the code the AMT should be eliminated, it's original purpose has been lost and it targets mainly middle America now)