Many believe it takes a single theologian or more to read and understand the Holy Bible, which is nearly 800,000 words long. So, who is supposed to read and understand the U.S. Code Title 26, infamously known as the Federal Tax Code? That H&R Block guy on TV? If only it were that simple.
So what would the tax code look like if printed (one sided in this article) on paper? In celebration (you’re welcome to call it something else) of Tax Day, Speaker John Boehner released a video decrying the length and complexity of the tax code. Next to him is a prop previously used by Sen. Mitch McConnell to show you how monstrous Obamacare is.
Boehner proclaims our tax code to be four of what is next to him, so I took the liberty of editing the visual a little to give the reader a proper look.
Pretty neat, huh? According to Boehner, that stack of dead trees is 4 million words long. Is that true though? Is it really that long?
I found a downloadable TXT file of the entire tax code on the U.S. House website. I download it, copied, and then pasted the entire thing to a word counter. WARNING: This thing is huge, so copying and pasting it may slow down or freeze your browser. After pasting it to WordCounter.net, I found that the entire tax code is 4.139 million words long or 27,889,957 characters. That is roughly 5 1/2 Bibles (remember this is one sided printing). It appears Boehner is not far off the mark in word count.
So, how does Boehner propose to create a greener tax code? The answer according to his video is “by closing loopholes and lowering rates.” Sigh…I was hoping for a more environmentally friendlier solution. Making the tax code three stacks high instead of four is good, but it would still be 3 million words long and a lot of dead trees. Flat tax anyone? Fair tax? 9-9-9? Any of those are better than the tax returns everyone had to fill out this year.