February 1999 Issue


RIA Group's online Flashpoll reveals tax professionals' frustration with what they consider an unfair and complex tax code. In response to the question, "If you could make one change to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), what would it be?" more than 41% of tax professionals polled called for radical change. Some respondents suggested elimination of the income tax system altogether and others a drastic revamping and simplification of the code.

Of the tax professionals who said the income tax system should be radically changed or eliminated, nearly 27% suggested simplifying the code dramatically. Less than 10% of that same group called for a national sales tax to replace income taxes. Less radical were the more than eight percent of all respondents calling for the adoption of a flat income tax system, eliminating progressive rates and the current assortment of exemptions.

"One of the most interesting things the Flashpoll demonstrated was that tax professionals share some of the same frustrations with the IRC as individual taxpayers," said Allen Harris, senior vice president, corporate market, for RIA Group. "The large majority of responses centered on either parts of the IRC that were unfair to taxpayers or on changes that would help the taxpayer."

"Marriage Penalty" & Estate Tax Deemed Unfair

The marriage penalty received the next highest score after radical changes, with close to 10% of respondents calling for its elimination. Gift and estate tax provisions are also ripe for change according to tax professionals, with more than nine percent of respondents calling for their removal. Many pointed out the burdens these complex provisions place on taxpayers as they attempt to provide adequately for their heirs.

Other respondents to RIA Group's Flashpoll reflected a wide range of suggested changes. For instance, many professionals highlighted the complexity of the code and its language, while others pointed to Social Security taxes and lack of incentives for education. For full results, visit www.flashresults.riag.com.

The Flashpoll was designed as a forum for tax professionals to voice their thoughts on key issues facing the industry. This was the second in a series developed to learn the key issues on tax, accounting, and finance professionals' minds. It appeared online on the Checkpoint (www.checkpoint.riag.com) and RIATax (www.riatax.com) websites from October 26, 1998, through November 30, 1998, receiving nearly 500 responses.

RIA Group, based in New York City, is part of the Thomson Corporation (www.thomcorp.com). *

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