Taxes – the perennial bugbear of the Republican party – are back in the spotlight in Washington.
Republicans this week outlined a plan to dramatically lower taxes on businesses and overhaul the code for individuals and families.
Changing the way Americans are taxed was a key campaign issue of US President Donald Trump.
Republicans say their plan will create a simpler, fairer code, with business rates in line with other countries.
“Our country and our economy cannot take off like they should unless we dramatically reform America’s outdated, complex, and extremely burdensome tax code,” Trump said this week.
“It’s a relic. We’ve got to change it. We have to compete with other countries.”
So is the US system actually an uncompetitive relic? And if so, will the Republican plan fix it?
Are US taxes more complicated than in other places?
Complaining about the complexity of the tax code is hardly limited to the US. After all, the UK has an entire government office dedicated to “tax simplification”.
But the US is worse by some measures.
A typical US company will spend about 175 hours to comply with the tax code, according to a report by accounting giant PwC.
That’s higher than in the UK (110 hours) and across Europe (164 hours ).
In recent years about 90% of US tax payers sought assistance from software or professionals to file their returns.
But proposals for the government to prepare returns for households based on the information it already collects have met fierce opposition, especially from tax filing firms.
Such a system is already present in countries such as Sweden.