Today, Tax Day, everyone understands that it is not just paying the taxes that is painful, it is getting together all the information and filling out the forms. The cost is time as well as money, time that could be far better spent.
This is not just an upper- or middle-income problem. Low-income individuals who expect an Earned Income Tax Credit have to file to receive it.
In May 2013, scholars at the Mercatus Center estimated the costs of tax compliance to be at least $215 billion a year.
A 2008 study by the Taxpayer Advocate Service at the IRS estimated that Americans spend 3.5 billion hours a year preparing their individual income tax returns. With 134.6 million filers at the time, this averaged to each individual spending 26.4 hours complying with the tax code.
Since the Taxpayer Advocate study was conducted, the tax code has only grown more complex. Wolters Kluwer, the global information services and publishing company, estimated the length of the U.S. tax code to be 67,204 pages in 2007. Their 2013 estimate showed 9 percent growth, to nearly 74,000 pages.
Because of the growing complexity of the tax code, taxpayers likely now average more than 27 hours on their individual income tax returns per year.
Here are twelve things you could do with 27 extra hours of free time:
Drive the entire length of Interstate-95, from Miami, Florida to the Canadian border at Houlton, Maine.
Watch all eight Harry Potter movies.
Play 117 holes (6.5 rounds) of golf with 2014 Masters Champion Bubba Watson.
Watch 13 movies on your Netflix list. Or, just browse Netflix for 27 hours and add a hundred new ones.
Watch the longest tennis match ever, twice (Isner vs. Mahut at Wimbledon 2010).
Take the SATs (3.75 hours), the GREs (3.75), the DATs (4.5), the MCATs (4.5) and the LSATs (3.5), all in one sitting, plus have 7 hours for breaks.
Read Game of Thrones, the 694 page novel by George R.R. Martin. Or, watch the first three seasons of the HBO series of the same name.
Ride the entire length of all five WMATA Metrorail lines more than five times.
Watch at least three seasons of your favorite half-hour sitcom: Friends, The Office, Big Bang Theory, etc.
Fly around the world twice in the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. The discontinued military aircraft has held the airspeed record (2193 mph) since 1976.
Listen to the complete Beatles discography, twice.
Write a dozen columns for E21.
Whatever your tastes, you would benefit from a simpler code.
Note: This was originally posted earlier this week on the website for Economic Policies for the 21st Century and is republished here with permission.