The Senate Finance Committee held hearings on tax reform for individuals, the latest in a series of hearings on tax reform.

“The IRS estimates that it takes people an average of 26.4 hours to complete the individual tax form,” said committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., in his opening statement. “That’s more than a complete day, just to figure out how much you owe the federal government. That’s too long.”

Ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, pointed to the problems with the alternative minimum tax and the impending expiration of tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003. “When we consider the complexity of the regular tax system and the creeping effects of the alternative minimum tax, you have a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Leonard E. Burman, director of the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, wondered about the effect of the presidential election on tax reform.

“A new president who had campaigned on a platform of working in a bipartisan way to advance objectives that matter to both parties may be willing to stake political capital on advancing tax reform,” he said. And the fact that both sides acknowledge that this is a ‘change election’ bodes well for the next president’s willingness to take political risks.”

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