Imagine running a small business and being assessed a penalty by the IRS. Then imagine being told by the IRS that the only way to avoid the penalty is to commit a serious felony, laundering money. This Kafkaesque...
- The Tax Policy Blog
- The Income Tax Code Spans More than 70,000 Pages
The Income Tax Code Spans More than 70,000 Pages
In 1913, the federal income tax started as four pages of forms and instructions. Today, the income tax code spans more than 70,000 pages and influences virtually every decision we make. Over the decades, lawmakers have increasingly asked the tax code to direct all manner of social and economic objectives, such as encouraging people to buy hybrid vehicles, turn corn into gasoline, purchase health insurance, buy a home, replace that home’s windows, adopt children, put them in daycare, purchase school supplies, go to college, invest in historic buildings, spend more on research, and the list goes on.
The growth in social and economic policy driven through the tax code has made the IRS a super-agency, duplicating the work of every other cabinet agency, from Energy and Education to HHS and HUD. Were we to start from scratch, we would not want a tax collection agency to perform these functions.
See more charts like this in the second edition of our chart book, Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns.
Subscribe to the Tax Foundation Newsletter
We will never sell or share your information with third parties.
Join the Tax Foundation's fight for sound tax policy Go
About the Tax Policy Blog
The Tax Policy Blog is the official blog of the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization that has monitored tax policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. Our economists welcome your feedback. If you would like to send an e-mail to the author of a blog post, please click on that person's name to locate his or her e-mail address or visit our staff page here.