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03/09/2005

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Brian

I said over at Matt Yglesias' blog that I believed that people like Grover Norquist and other lunatic anti-tax advocates use the complexity argument when they really mean to argue something else, like effiency. It's a lot easier to piss people off about doing something complicated, even if they aren't directly affected by the complicated system (i.e. doing their own taxes), than it is to make them angry about effiency.

Anyway, I just remember reading what was up at his campaign site and never read the original proposal by Jeffrey Liebman, an economist at the Kennedy School at Harvard, but Wesley Clark's tax plan focused a lot on simplication by, I believe, unifying the credits that low-income earners would receive. It also shifted more of the burden on to the wealthy, which was nice. It was revenue neutral, which might have made it easier to pass, but then, there was still the issue of long-term fiscal stability.

In any event, it would be nice if the Democrats could agree on some broad to somewhat broad goals, if not specific plans (which don't matter as much, since their legislation isn't being voted into law, let alone put up for a vote), to counter the Republicans. There's a lot we can do to make the system better and fairer for people who really need it. Two birds, one stone, essentially.

Ezra

I have noticed H&R Blocks popping up in strip malls next to Rent-A-Centers. (For those of you who live in nice places, Rent-A-Center is a scheme in which you pay several times over for consumer products like big-screen TVs, sofas, etc. Its spokesman is (was?) John Madden, who was following in the footsteps of Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto at the Money Store...)

Jon K

Brian -

I agree that tax policy is one of a number of opportunities for the Democrats to define themselves while hopefully creating a benefit. One only hopes that Dean and company can identify these opportunities and develop the goals plans in such a way that the state and local organizations can use them in their operations. The point is to have a small number relatively specific goals/initiatives/issues that everyone in the party from top to bottom can hammer away at. This is another two birds, one stone situation since 1) it's a way to define the party, and 2) it creates an echo nation-wide that helps cement the concepts in the minds of voters.

Nell Lancaster

Hooray for this post, Mark. I knew about the existence of Refund Anticipation Loans, but had no idea how heavily they're used and how outrageous the interest is until I read David Shipler's _The Working Poor_.

Is this (usurious tax refund loans) something that can be regulated at a state level, or would it have to be federal law?

catfish

There is a great volunteer opportunity for educated people. A couple of years ago, my wife headed up an effort to get local law students to help low income people file taxes free of charge. The IRS cooperated and even help train these folks who were able to help people get Earned Income Credit checks.

There was some problem getting the word out, so fewer people took advantage of the help than could have, but tapping into networks like churches, schools, housing projects, etc. can have a big effect. Also, it makes a good volunteer project because individuals can make a monetary difference in the lives of the working poor with a time commitment that is limited and seasonal.

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Tomasz

Yeah - TurboTax helps with tax preparation a lot. It is worth it to pay some cash for it.

orange county home inspector

Turbo tax rocks! I love it...

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