Treasury pushing public tax outcry

WASHINGTON: The Treasury Department wants Americans to get angry about the tax code in hopes they will eventually force Congress to take action.

WASHINGTON: The Treasury Department wants Americans to get angry about the tax code in hopes they will eventually force Congress to take action.

Calling it "an abomination

and "an unbelievable mess,

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has been speaking publicly of his desire to simplify the overly complex code. At a Chamber of Commerce meeting last month, he announced that the Treasury would be releasing several reports in the coming weeks that highlight particularly egregious examples of that complexity.

"You might think a 'child' could have only one definition,

O'Neill said, citing one area his department plans to target. "Not according to the US Tax Code. There are five major different definitions of what a 'child' is."

Only Congress has the power to change the code. Many members have voiced support for doing so, but considerable resistance remains among some Democrats.

Hence the Treasury's plan to light a fire under the issue, in hopes the public will demand Congress take action.

According to a Treasury spokeswoman, the first of the reports should come out in mid-March, complete with a PR push by in-house public affairs staff. The second report is expected sometime this summer. The reports will focus on the alternative minimum tax, IRAs, uniform definition of a child, and individual capital gains.

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