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IRS head calls for simplification

It's tax season, and of all of the statements about taxes that ring true with most Americans, this one undoubtedly ranks among the highest: "Taxes are complicated."

Even the country's head tax collector agrees. Commissioner of Internal Revenue John Koskinen doesn't often voice an opinion regarding tax policy, but he did recently. Koskinen urged Congress to take meaningful steps toward simplifying the U.S. tax code.

However, what Koskinen means by "simplification" may not appeal to every taxpayer. He wants to address credits, exemptions and deductions by keeping business interests -- specifically, lobbying groups -- at bay while the tax code is overhauled.

In particular, Koskinen asked Congress to change the taxation of U.S. companies that do business abroad. Koskinen also wants to reform the alternative minimum tax (often called the AMT), which the commissioner described as "impenetrable."

It's been nearly 30 years since the tax code saw across-the-board changes, and it remains to be seen whether Congress will act on tax reform in this legislative session.

With the deadline for filing so close, many taxpayers may be facing some difficult decisions. It is possible to file for an extension, which would give you six more months to file, but the tax is nonetheless due by the deadline.

Matters can quickly become complicated if a taxpayer is contacted by an IRS agent about unpaid taxes. Generally, IRS tax audits are uncomfortable, intrusive and intimidating for taxpayers. An attorney with experience in this area of the law may be able to clarify options and minimize any possible penalties.

Source: USA Today, "Even the IRS chief says tax code is too complex," Gregory Korte, April 3, 2014

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