In 1976 I cast my first vote in a presidential election — choosing incumbent Gerald Ford over the peanut farmer from Plains, Ga. Back then, I knew or cared little about taxes and tax policies, as the meager income I accrued during my college years required little more than the short form. If the IRS had had something on the order of a “very short form,” I probably could have used that.But I’ve learned one or two things since then, and one of them is to be a bit skeptical about tax policy pronouncements uttered during the frenzy of an election year.

In the 2008 election, the often-uncomfortable subject of taxes and tax reform has, in essence, defined the platforms of this year’s trio of White House hopefuls. The stark reality is that whatever policy issue they favor, whether health care, job creation et al., is inarguably rooted in tax policy. And thus far, none of them have exactly been forthcoming about the degree to which they would have to raise taxes, either to help fund the programs they want, or on a more basic level, to balance the budget.

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