Congressional incompetence was funnier when it didn’t affect me

No, really.

The Internal Revenue Service is looking hard at delaying the start of its filing season, set to kick off on Jan. 14, if Congress fails to pass legislation in the next two weeks. At issue is how to handle what could be a dramatic increase in the number of people facing a higher alternative minimum tax.

If there is a delay and it extends into mid-February, it would slow nearly 38 million refunds worth a total of about $87 billion, the IRS Oversight Board predicts.

Some disruption already is taking place. As Congress was leaving for its Thanksgiving break with no deal in sight, the IRS was going to press with the forms for the 2007 tax year.

Spires said the agency has postponed printing the AMT form and 11 others affecting smaller tax issues that Congress has promised to deal with but has not.

The IRS has done the design work on the new forms after receiving assurances from Democratic and Republican leaders on the taxwriting committees that Congress will enact an AMT fix this year similar to legislation passed last year.

Congress returns this week. But it will take about seven weeks after a bill is passed and signed into law to do the necessary programming and testing before those forms could be presented to the public, Spires said.

The Alternative Minimum Tax, as noted previously, is the seeable-coming-for-miles logic bomb, left behind several decades and about 20 congresses ago. Nice to see the entropic rot of dysfunctionality reaching out to the rest of the country: we never really managed to suffer the Iraq War, to which we didn’t send our children – perhaps our missing tax returns will do the trick? Meanwhile, I hear Wolfie’s getting a new gig in the White House.

Back with the Associated Press.

In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has floated a proposal to find ways to pay for the tax credits, but not the AMT fix. There was no deal with Senate Republicans before the Thanksgiving break, and it was unclear whether House Democrats _ or the president _ would accept Baucus’ approach.

Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that, without a fix, about half of taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes in the $75,000-$100,000 range will be affected by the AMT this year.

Some perspective on this finely-tailored lunatics’ kindergarten, by way of about.com:

about.com

That was the previous – 109th – Congress. They also worked the fewest days:

In the Sixties and Seventies, Congress met an average of 162 days a year. In the Eighties and Nineties, the average went down to 139 days. This year, the second session of the 109th Congress will set the all-time record for fewest days worked by a U.S. Congress: ninety-three. That means that House members will collect their $165,000 paychecks for only three months of actual work.

I say we at least agree that they were there for 93 days – the number of days of work put in will be far lower. Just think about that while you’re wondering why you tolerate them keeping your money due to their own laziness, while still taxing – regressively – your brains out every time you spend what was left after tax.

The Burden of Government is a multivalent thing. I went to great lengths to teach my students (using the last mid-term to do it) that there is more to the idea than mere Federal Income Tax (that’s the money the IRS can’t give you back until the government does its job). Thanks to Forbes, we know that the US has it easy, at least on paper:

Forbes table

Forbes graph

Personally, I say US citizens get ripped off more than anyone else in the OECD.

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