It's not just you...
Washington lawmakers couldn't prepare
their own Tax Returns without help, either!
I thought you'd enjoy this article by AP reporter
Mary Dalrymple as reported in the Charlotte
News on April 16, 2006....
WASHINGTON - When it comes to their own
tax returns, many members of Congress who
specialize in writing tax laws turn to professional
preparers rather than completing the paperwork
"It's onerous and everybody knows it," said Rep.
Richard Neal, D-Mass.
Three of the four top lawmakers on the Senate
Finance and House Ways and Means committees,
which are in charge of writing tax laws, pay a
professional to file their annual tax returns with
the Internal Revenue Service.
The exception is the Ways and Means chairman,
Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif. The former college
professor said he has prepared his own return
"forever" and that he waits until close to the deadline
to file. Monday is the filing deadline for most people.
"There's no reason for me to pay Uncle Sam - pay,
you heard that - until I have to," he said.
How about one of the tax writers who could become
chairman after Thomas retires at year's end?
"Absolutely not," said Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La.
"I'm not an accountant. I'm a lawyer."
According to IRS statistics, that makes these
members of Congress much like the public. More
than 60 percent of taxpayers turn to a paid pro-
fessional to prepare their returns. The number
typically increases a little each year.
Some lawmakers have more complicated financial
lives than the average taxpayer, making their
returns more complicated. Some said they had a
professional do the job to guarantee the return's
David Keating, senior counselor at the National
Taxpayers Union, said lawmakers should at least
try to complete their own returns. Members of
tax-writing committees should have to spend
20 hours working on their tax returns before
giving up and handing the job to a professional,
"If they're going to sit on a tax-writing committee,
it certainly makes a lot of sense for them at least
to attempt to do their own tax return," Keating said.
"And when they scream out 'Torture!' to their tax
preparer, at least they'd have a better view."
A few do dive in on their own.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he does them "just
so I can go through the process." Then he asks
an accountant to check for mistakes.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., usually prepares his
own taxes using computer software. Sen. Mike
Crapo, R-Idaho, does his tax return and his children's.
Rep. Kevin Brady's wife, a former banker, prepares
the tax returns for the Texas Republican's family.
Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., does not do his own
returns, but he agreed it might be a good idea to try.
"I think it is important that we operate in the real
world," he said.
These lawmakers have offered ideas to simplify the
tax system, but none has gotten close to enactment.
Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., dislikes the tax system so
much that he wants to scrap individual tax filing and
the Internal Revenue Service. He would trade the
income tax system for a consumption tax.
A less drastic change is advocated by Sen. Ron
Wyden, D-Ore. He did not prepare his real tax returns,
but he was able to prepare a hypothetical tax return
in 30 minutes based on his proposed simplified tax
"This last fact is truly revolutionary because no one can
remember the last time a member of the tax-writing
Senate Finance Committee actually completed their
own tax return," he said.
That's not exactly a "Tax Tip You Can Bank On," but
I thought you might find it amusing - or frustrating.
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