First of five articles
Every year about this time, a chorus of politicians sing out that old song: "Next year we will simplify the federal tax code."
And yet also about this time, millions of Americans sit down to analyze, interpret and understand the complexities of filing their annual income tax returns.
The Internal Revenue Service gives guidance on how long it will take on average to complete its forms. On page 75 of a publication called "2004 1040 Instructions," we are told:
Record keeping: 2 hours, 46 minutes.
Learning about the law or the form: 3 hours, 58 minutes.
Preparing the form: 6 hours, 17 minutes.
Copying, assembling and sending to IRS: 34 minutes.
That's a total of 13 hours, 35 minutes.
Oh! By the way, that's only for Form 1040. Good luck if you have to fill out other forms.