ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If time is money, our complex tax system is costing Americans plenty of both. By the most recent estimates, the complexity of the Tax Code costs individual taxpayers $115.4 billion, thanks to the time burden and expenses of software, preparer fees, and other materials. The total time burden, including corporate filings, is 7.64 billion hours at a cost of $227.1 billion. These and other sobering results come from the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union's (NTU's) 13th annual study of tax complexity.
NTU Senior Counselor and study author David Keating said, "NTU's Taxing Trend Report shows that complexity is the root of many problems surrounding our tax system, including damage done to our economy and our civil liberties."
More startling findings from NTU's 2011 Taxing Trend Report:
The 7.64 billion hour paperwork burden equates to about 3.82 million people working full-time with two weeks' vacation each year.
This "unseen army" would, if it were officially classified as an occupation, rank second-largest in the country, right behind that of "retail salesperson" and is larger than the workforces of IBM, McDonald's, Target, Wal-Mart, and UPS combined!
The current version of the Tax Code tops out at 3,837,105 words, an increase of more than 52,000 words since NTU's 2010 study.
The average compliance time for those using any of the Form 1040 series is 19 hours, up from 17.3 hours last year. The average out-of-pocket cost for filing these forms is $250, up 10 percent.
The instruction book alone for the 1040 "long" form consists of 179 pages (five more than last year's publication). But the "short" form is no slouch either: the 1040A instructions total 87 pages, more than the "long" form's entire booklet from 1995!
"As the White House and Congress continue to debate how heavy the burden of paying taxes should be for Americans, they must pay more attention to how heavy the burden of filing taxes can be," Keating concluded.
NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969. The Taxing Trend Report is available at ntu.org.