Maintaining that there's near-universal agreement that the nation's tax code is too complex, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, officially opened the committee's hearings titled "Kick-off for Tax Reform: Tackling the Tax Code."
Grassley said that he had no preconceived notion of which direction tax reform should proceed, "whether we're talking about a flat tax, national retail sales tax, value-added tax or substantial modification of the current system."


The Finance Committee tax staff is currently developing simplification proposals in all income tax areas.


Former Senators Connie Mack and John Breaux, who headed up last year's presidential tax reform panel, were at the hearing, along with David Walker, Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office, and Dr. Jane Gravelle of the Congressional Research Service.


Fundamental reform of the tax system has the potential to improve compliance in two ways, according to Walker.


"The complexity of, and frequent revisions to, the tax system make it more difficult and costly for taxpayers who want to comply to do so and for the IRS to explain and enforce tax laws," he said. "Complexity also creates a fertile ground for those intentionally seeking to evade taxes, and often trips others into unintentional noncompliance."

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