18 April 2011


Reason: Hit & Run | Peter Suderman | America's Tax System In Just 72,536 Easy Pages

How many pages does it take to lay out the insanely complicated rules and requirements of our tax code? According to tax publisher CCH, the total number of pages devoted to federal tax code rules, IRS rulings, and regulations has grown to 72,536:

It's no wonder that even the government's own experts and officials can't figure it out. Any system of rules that requires in excess 72,000 pages to explain and understand borders on useless. At this point it might as well be Calvinball.

Via Cato's Chris Edwards.
Can you imagine trying to maintain a codebase that was that large and growing at such a pace? And one that was written in something resembling an esoteric language? And that had not as much as a single unit test or assertion to ensure anything resembling consistency or reliability? And that was being interpreted by non-deterministic, error-prone humans rather than a compiler? And whose design was being set out by politicians instead of engineers?

I would rather gouge out my eyes than work in that sort of mental space.

Don't get me started on the ability of mere citizens to comply with a library worth of tax law.

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