Complying with the federal tax code costs American taxpayers at least $100 billion annually, and lost economic efficiency associated with the tax system may top half a trillion dollars, auditors for the Government Accountability Office told Congress.In a report likely to add fuel to the campaign for an easy-to-administer national consumption tax, the GAO said that the lowest available estimates of the cost of complying with federal income, payroll and excise taxes is $107 billion - a whopping 1 percent of the nation's total gross domestic product. Other studies suggest that compliance costs may be 50 percent higher than these estimates.

Citing U.S. Treasury Department estimates that individuals, businesses and exempt organizations spent a total of 6.4 billion hours completing federal tax forms last year, the agency concluded that even these estimates may be conservative.

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