“As a result of the [tax] code’s growing complexity, Americans spent a total of 7.64 billion hours in 2010 negotiating tax-related paperwork—more than twice the working time of all the elementary school teachers in the U.S.”

(Source: The Week, citing Reason.com)

3 Responses to “Factoid of the day: National priorities edition”

  1. Dan, Frightening: 3.8 *million* person-years. That’s on par with the entire US military person-years (presuming 3000 person-hours per year in the military). Rick Kiley

  2. Michael says:

    Ouch – imagine those hours being redirected into productive economic deployment – phew, powerhouse potential.

  3. Nils Davis says:

    “Factoid” is the right term. There are a lot of problems with this number. First of all, the source is suspect – Reason.com, as a major libertarian publication, is notoriously anti-tax.

    Second, the number itself seems awfully high, certainly for individuals/couples – that’s like 50 hours per taxpayer. I certainly didn’t spend anything like 50 hours on my taxes this year, and I have fairly complicated taxes.

    Third, the vast majority of the tax code applies to businesses, much of it loopholes and tax breaks for various powerful lobbies. Many large businesses, especially, have multiple full time people working on lowering their taxes, either through accounting tricks (or just taking advantage of the code), and through lobbying. Simplifying the code as it applies to businesses, so that even e.g., Exxon has to pay some taxes, would significantly reduce that number, but I doubt Reason.com would really go for a solution like that.

    Finally, how does this number compare to commute hours? Well, people commute on average about 1 hour per day, so this number is saying that people spend about the same amount of time on “tax-related paperwork” as they do commuting. That’s just ridiculous.

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