I have sent in our federal income tax and our gift tax returns for 2013. As in prior years, it is important for you to know that I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate. I say that despite the fact that I a college graduate and I try hard to make sure our tax returns are accurate. The tax code is so complex and the forms are so complicated, that I know I cannot have any confidence that I know what is being requested and therefore I cannot and do not know, as I suspect a great many Americans cannot know, whether or not their tax returns are accurate. As in past years, I have spent more money that I wanted to spend to hire an accounting firm to prepare our tax returns and I believe they are well qualified. This note is to alert you folks that I know that I do not know whether or not my tax returns are accurate, which is a sad commentary on governance in our nation's capital. If you have any questions, let me know and I will ask our accounts to be in touch with you to try to provide any additional information you may think you need. I do hope that at some point in my lifetime, and I am now in my 80s, so there are not many years left, they U.S. government will simply the U.S. tax code so that those citizens who sincerely want to pay what they should, are able to do it right, and know that they have done it right. I should add that my wife of 59 years, also a college graduate, has signed our joint return, but she also knows that she does not have any idea whether or not our tax payments are accurate.
Though at first this seemed like an odd joke, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld apparently sent a 310-word harangue to the Internal Revenue Service today, complaining about the difficulty he has completing his tax returns. On Twitter, Rumsfeld described it as his "annual letter" to the IRS.
If I've transcribed it correctly, the entirety of the letter reads as follows:
First, I'm sure IRS officials consider it delightful when citizens send "annual letters" complaining about how complicated things are. (It's not up to the IRS, incidentally, to determine the simplicity or complexity of the tax code. That's up to Congress.)
Second, if there's one thing Rumsfeld can speak on with great authority, it's sad commentaries on governance in our nation's capital.
And third, if you're thinking the lines between Abe Simpson and Donald Rumsfeld are getting blurry, please know that you're not alone. I kept looking for the post script in today's letter in which the man who, until eight years ago ran the nation's largest bureaucracy, was supposed to say, "There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three...."