As the election season progressed, we moved away from, rather than toward, simplification, a shift now codified by leaving the existing suite of tax expenditures in place and limiting deductions. What Congress has enacted is simply a mutant descendant of the AMT, nothing more than an arithmetic attempt to correct flawed or unsustainable policy choices. And boiling down tax policy largely to a discussion of rates has not increased the prospect that Congress will make tough, needed policy choices anytime soon.
Where we go from here on tax reform is still largely up to the president. Coming after the tortured fiscal cliff negotiations, the upcoming debates on the debt limit, sequestration and government funding promise to be equally tumultuous, if not more so. The president will show his hand in the debt negotiations and when the administration presents its FY2014 budget just a few weeks from now. If the president proposes meaningful entitlement reforms, tax reform may stay on the table. If Washington’s slow-moving train wreck continues, a better Tax Code will almost certainly be a casualty
Mark W. Everson is vice chairman of alliantgroup, a provider of specialty tax services. He served as commissioner of Internal Revenue from 2003 through 2007.