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Tax Complexity: Can Technology Make Us Free?

Katharine Graham Conference Center, Urban Institute
2100 M Street, NW, Washington, DC

Listen to the event Audio Recording

Thursday, April 8, 2010

As April 15 approaches, many of us are fuming over our 1099s, W-2s, and 1040s. Not only because we must pay tax, but also because the process is so complex. Some of us wrestle with the baffling Alternative Minimum Tax, and for many others even the special tax breaks we all love require extra worksheets and forms. To manage this mess, the vast majority of taxpayers now use paid preparers or commercial software, and most now file returns electronically. As a result, in spite of increased complexity, new IRS data show compliance costs for individual taxpayers are decreasing.

Join us as we discuss the latest IRS findings on taxpayer compliance costs, the potential benefits and costs of return-free tax systems, and ways to help low-income taxpayers cope with complexity.


  • John Guyton, Chief, Forecasting and Service Analysis, IRS Office of Research - Handout
  • William Gale, Arjay and Frances Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy, Brookings Institution; Codirector, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center - Handout
  • Elaine Maag, Research Associate, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center - Handout
  • Robert Weinberger, Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security
  • Moderator:  Howard Gleckman, Resident Fellow, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center