As someone who has been “follicly challenged” since his early 20s, I’m not going to join those berating presidential candidate John Edwards for his lavish outlay of $400 for a haircut.

Except possibly out of jealousy.

If you’re still blessed with a thickly covered pate into your 50s, my feeling is, much like a vintage car that requires premium oil, you have to maintain it.

His strategy on how to overhaul the tax preparation system however, is rife with bureaucratic dandruff.
For those who can’t tell the sea of presidential hopefuls without a scorecard — much less their positions on critical issues — the former trial lawyer and senator from North Carolina has proposed bypassing tax preparers in favor of having the Internal Revenue Service calculate the tax bills for roughly 50 million Americans and subsequently mailing said taxpayers the results on a “Form 1.”

The candidate has claimed that under his system, Americans would bypass the “complex and confusing tax-filing system” (his description) as well as — and here’s the kicker – “avoid paying preparers to help with their taxes.”

So essentially Edwards’ plan would supplant tax preparers with, well, more government bureaucrats. His rationale is that the IRS would actually simplify the filing process via an information-sharing strategy and also by creating a “free interactive” Web site that would eliminate the need for data entry, calculators and, of course, tax tables.

In theory, the IRS would send an invoice with the Form 1 and the taxpayer would merely need to sign it.
What Edwards fails to mention is that the IT component is predicated on the IRS finally completing the long-awaited upgrades on its antiquated IT processes.

He also claims that this system would help low-income families learn about whether they’re entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit, although I’m not exactly sure how this system would help usher in that process any quicker. I also await his plans on how to whittle down the $300 billion tax gap.

Like a true trial lawyer, Edwards’ subliminal agenda here seems not so much easing the tax filing process, as taking on the tax-prep industry.

Few would argue the need for tax reform or simplifying the tax prep process, but Edwards’ nightmare-in-waiting is not the panacea.
But to be fair, here’s my suggestion: During the next filing season, let the candidate do a test run with his tax returns.

The ensuing scenario would surely ruffle that coiffure.

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