IRS Commissioner: ‘I Find the Tax Code Complex, So I Use a Preparer’

By Nicholas Ballasy | January 12, 2010 | 1:59pm EST

IRS income tax forms.(AP file photo)

( -- The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Douglas Shulman, told C-SPAN on Sunday that he uses a tax preparer to do his federal income tax return because he finds the tax code too complex to handle the job himself.
“I use a preparer,” Shulman told C-SPAN anchor Steve Scully on the network’s Newsmakers program. "I've used one for years. I find it convenient. I find the tax code complex, so I use a preparer.”
Scully followed up by asking Shulman, “How would you make it easier? How would you make it less complex?”

Shulman said: "I don't write the tax laws. Congress writes the tax laws so that's a whole different discussion."

The U.S. tax code currently is over 67,000 pages.

Later in the program, Scully returned to the issue of the IRS commissioner using a tax preparer to do his taxes. “I want to go back to the earlier point about you use a preparer to file your taxes,” said Scully. “What does that tell you about the complexities of the tax code and as you indicated Congress writes the law, not you, what would you tell Congress to try to make it simpler so more people can file their own returns?”
Shulman responded that he is a “big fan” of simplifying the tax code.
“Yeah, first of all, I wouldn’t read much into what I do personally with my taxes,” said Shulman. “I’ve had a preparer that I like, I trust, and has filed my taxes accurately for 10 years and so I just use that preparer. So, I wouldn’t say that has any broad implications.”
“Regarding simplification of the taxes laws, I for a long time have been a big fan of simplification,” said Shulman. “The easier it is for people to understand the tax code, the more compliant they’ll be and so I think anything that can be done to simplify the tax laws is certainly good for the IRS.
“I think it’s good for the country,” added Shulman. “The president’s been vocal about this as has the [Treasury] secretary.  So I think it’s apple pie and motherhood to simply for the tax laws. You know, I think it’s difficult to do so, but we’ll see where things go in the next couple years.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner failed to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes earlier this decade and apologized to Congress for that failure during his confirmation process. 
Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 21 that he prepared some of his tax returns on his own with a tax-preparation computer program. He had later made up for the taxes he initially failed to pay.
"These were careless mistakes," he said, as reported by the Associated Press.  "They were avoidable mistakes.”
"But they were unintentional," he said. "I should have been more careful." 

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