Just shy of two weeks, the joke got old for Jack Bogdanski's plan to podcast the entire U.S. Tax Code.
Bogdanski, a tax professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, has maintained his blog at http://bojack.org/index.shtml for the past several years and said the idea to make the entire tax code available via audio file came to him in the middle of a lecture on carryover basis.
He launched the project on April 7, but after 13 consecutive days of recording a section of the code per day in his dulcet tones, the Internal Revenue Code Podcast Project (http://bojack.org/taxpod.html) went silent. As the note at the bottom of the Webpage put it, "This project is on hiatus, while the author seeks the guidance of a mental health professional. Check back here for updates as his various medications are adjusted."
The project started off strong, with a 36 minute, 3 second recording of section 1, but it was apparently the back-to-back rigor of recording section 25 (coming in at more than 18 minutes) and section 25A (more than 13 minutes), that moved the professor's project from a lark, into the dark.
Bogdanski's project did generate some noise from cyberspace's commentariat. One poster, going by the handle "no one in particular," asked in the early days what happened to Section 4 of the code. To which Bogdanski replied that he had decided not to podcast repealed provisions, despite the requests he had received for "some of the old favorites."
Another poster, Daphne, thanked the professor and credited the podcast with helping her kick a sleeping pill habit. Of course, her big question was about how it all ends.
It all ends much the same way President Reagan's Tax Reform Act of 1986 went. For every step the federal government takes towards simplification, there seems to be two steps taken backwards. For every abolishment of a convulated break, there seems to be another white paper or reform panel report on meaningful reform, which gets tossed into a drawer, never again to see the light of day for fear of political uproar.
The basic problem with selling tax reform is that will everyone is in agreement that the current code barely qualifies as ordered chaos, the fact of the matter is that the benefits of a simplified system would largely go to the country as a whole. Right now, individuals are the ones who vote; they're the ones who realize the immediate returns of the existing system, in, well, their tax returns.
But did Bodganski get anything out of his noble efforts?
"It was interesting, particularly when one of my students set my recording of IRC Section 5 to music," he said. "But life's too short, and this was all in fun to begin with."
So, the project came up 3,277 code sections short -- but according to one poster's estimate, reading the entire 3.4-million-word code (working of a January 2004 version approved by the House of Representatives) would have taken him until the fall of 2010. And doubtless, much of the source material will have changed or been expanded upon by then.
If nothing else, that student's remix, is still available off the project's Webpage.
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