I've often used this space to regale you - or, depending on your interest level, bore you - with my epic 1040 struggles. I'm probably one of the few residents of the Empire State who gets holiday cards from the New York State Department of Taxation thanking me for my sizeable contributions come April. I've decided that unless they start selling $500 tax shelters, I either need a new accountant, or a new Internal Revenue Code.Which is why, with some trepidation, I awaited the recommendations put forth by the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform - if for no other reason than a possible escape from the muscle cramps I inevitably get writing checks to Uncle Sam on or about April 15.

The bi-partisan panel - which was convened 10 months ago, conducted a dozen hearings and interviewed roughly 100 expert witnesses - submitted a pair of proposals to the Treasury Department. The first one promoted sweeping simplification of the current income tax system, while the second recommended changes for businesses that would lead to an indirect tax on consumption.

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