Tax Rascal

Plain Writing Act of 2010: Can Taxes Ever Make Sense?

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Plain Writing Act of 2010: Can Taxes Ever Make Sense?

Last week congress passed H.R. 946 into law, generally known as the known as the Plain Writing Act. What this is will hopefully do is make sure that government documents can be understood by the average person. Fewer acronyms, less jargon, more straight talk.

Great, right? Finally some governance for the people, by the people, and understood by the people. But, like many federal government laws, it has some flaws.

First, it’s ridiculous that this law even needed to be enacted. For those of us who are fans of smaller government, we want less laws (and more common sense) not more laws that legislate common sense. Of course people should be given forms that make sense to them–I just don’t think it should have gotten to the point where a law was necessary.

Second, I don’t know how much this will actually help people with their taxes. I think most people get confused by tax law and by references to other forms, other lines, different ways you can do things. Clearer directions won’t make the current way of doing things easier to understand.

Lastly, I don’t think this will get at the core problem for the government and the IRS: people just don’t want to pay their taxes. They see what the federal government does and they don’t see why they need to fund it. Putting that in plain writing won’t make taxes make more sense.

Oh well. I guess it’s about time the government caught up to etax services.


4 Responses to “Plain Writing Act of 2010: Can Taxes Ever Make Sense?”

  1. Salvador Trinxet Llorca Says:

    You are right. A survey in the US showed that americans think filling tax forms are the second worst experience. The first was visiting a dentist.

    Salvador Trinxet Llorca

  2. Salvador Trinxet Llorca Says:

    And yes: people just don’t want to pay their taxes. But see what happened with the UBS scandals in the US vs. the HSBC case in Europe. European taxpayers do not seem to be so scared regarding the tax authorities.

  3. Irwin Berent Says:

    I agree that telling people in plainer language that they need to pay money to a government that’s already way too big and too clumsy is no great accomplishment. Please take a look at our history of the legislative process that ultimately produced the Plain Writing Act of 2010 at our website ( For only by better understanding the process by which these kinds of laws are made can we begin to prune them.

  4. Adrian Yates Says:

    Tax filing should not be scary or difficult nor expensive. I agree that a plain “English” version is the way to go, but perhaps its the numbers that put people off. There are lots of so called friendly software out there to help and always the folks at H&RB to help. As a tax payer and running an accounting, tax and bookkeeping firm I see many people who just don’t file until that last moment of their extension then its big panic, but they all have different legit reasons including being scared…. forms are forms and that’s why were in business here…. We are certainly better than the dentist and way less expensive !

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