A Hard Look At the Fine Print

Unsnarling the present tax code is a complex business

For a plan that aims at a radical simplification of the Internal Revenue Code, Ronald Reagan's tax reform seems remarkably complex. To explain it, the Treasury last week issued a paperback volume of 461 pages studded with charts and at times singularly opaque prose. Sample: "A customer of a contractor making progress payments or advance payments would be treated as self- constructing the property under construction by the contractor to the extent of such payments."*

There are three main reasons for this Orwellian simple-is-befuddling approach. One is that the present tax code is such a hideous snarl. By Treasury count, under...

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