BACK INTO THE TAX MAZE

REMEMBER THE '86 SIMPLIFICATION? FORGET IT--AND BUY A NEW CALCULATOR BEFORE APRIL 15. CONGRESS AND CLINTON ARE BRINGING BACK THE BAD OLD DAYS

Nothing is simple in Washington, least of all simplicity. Eleven years ago, the House and Senate replaced the intricate U.S. tax code with a less convoluted system that aimed, with some success, to tax equal incomes more or less equally. That turned out to be an imperfect victory. Subsequent Congresses put enough complexity back, through juggling of rates, deductions, credits and so forth, so that the tax code is again almost as baroque as it was before the 1986 reform. Today it fills some 7,000 pages. Just trying to comply with it costs Americans $75 billion a year--minimum.

But if Washington...

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