You're working for no one but me
I think the USA is a great country, and I'm proud to live in it, and, all things considered, I think the price is right. When I consider what some people have to give their governments, or what they have to take from them, I can't say I feel like I pay too much.
However, I feel it takes far too much stress, record keeping, and research for the average wage slave to fill out their taxes. Paying taxes is like some real world version of Deal Or No Deal. Except the shadowy banker might actually decide your number is negative, and you never find out what the right briefcase is, and if you play too aggressively, you end up as Willie Nelson's cellmate.
So I've got a modest proposal: eliminate all deductions.
That's right, all of them. Every line we can eliminate from the tax code makes it easier to know where you stand. It reduces the possibility of fraud, and the need to amend returns. It simplifies record-keeping and the need to spend money on professionals or software, for taxpayers and the government. Just add up all the income deducted, divide it by the number of taxpayers, and farm it out equally to all. If it's not so obviously a gameable system, there's no fear like you're committing a crime, and no worry you're getting taken unfairly to the cleaners.
We don't need deductions for mortgage interest. Every mythology since the dawn of time has known that Home is a very powerful concept in the human psyche. People will buy houses anyway.
Yes, there are some rich people who'll stop donating to charity if the government doesn't give them 30% of their donation back. Shame on them, and shame on their families for raising them so poorly. The rest of us know that kindness is its own reward.
I'm awfully, awfully happy to take your money because Alison started grad school. (Thanks for that.) But for the life of me, I can't fathom how it's better to have tax credits for education than just spend the money on scholarships.
As I see it, itemized deductions do two things: they let the government shape our behavior, and they let them patronize us on feel-good issues. So to heck with that. Let's stop pretending that the government knows when we're spending our money right.
It leaves the question of what we'll whine about this time next year, but I bet we'll think of something.