The American Institute of CPAs has released a nonpartisan tax reform report, titled, "Understanding Tax Reform: A Guide to 21 st Century Alternatives." The report is meant as an overview to understanding major issues in the debate over making changes to the country's system.

"Tax reform is much tougher to accomplish than it is to envision," said AICPA president and chief executive Barry Melancon, in a statement. "However, the CPA profession has an unmatched understanding and knowledge of tax reform issues. It also will explain some of the most onerous problems for taxpayers that will occur during what we believe will be a very difficult transition from one system to the next."

In December 1995, the AICPA issued an analysis of the debate surrounding flat taxes and consumption taxes. The latest report updates some of that information and puts it in a modern context, while providing coverage of recent developments in the debate -- including calls for a hybrid approach to reform, creating a system with both an income and a consumption tax or significant elements of each.

The AICPA said that its objective in issuing the report is to provide policymakers, its members and other interested individuals with a clear understanding of the issues and alternatives involved in federal tax reform, and to foster informed discussion by providing unbiased information and analysis. The report is being released just weeks before a panel assembled by the Bush administration releases its own tax reform report on Nov. 1, which is expected to propose major changes in the current tax system.

The AICPA report highlights 10 policy objectives it recommends that any tax reform proposal be measured against. Those objectives include, simplicity, fairness, economic growth and efficiency, neutrality, transparency, minimizing noncompliance, cost-effective collection, impact on government revenues, certainty, and payment convenience.The full report is available at www.aicpa.org/taxreform.

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