House Republicans want taxpayers to be able to file their returns on a document the size of a postcard.
Speaking at a rollout of the House GOP agenda platform on taxes Friday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said that one of the purposes of the reform was to make the code so simple that such a short tax return would be possible.
“One of the goals is to make this code so simple and understandable for people that they file it on a postcard,” Brady said.
The plan, which Brady said would be further shaped by public input, would cut so many tax deductions, credits, and other breaks, that each filer would only have to answer a few questions to file their taxes.
A few enormously popular breaks would be kept, including the deduction for mortgage interest and charitable giving. The child tax credit and the low-income Earned Income Tax Credit would be kept, as would preferences for retirement savings. Otherwise, however, special provisions would be cut.
“The key question for Americans is: Do you want a code that’s simple and understandable? Or, we could load up that postcard with dozens if not hundreds of special interest provisions,” Brady said. “As long as everyone understands that means you have got to send far more money to Washington and sort of beg to get it back to your pocketbook.”
Filing taxes on a postcard is not a new promise. Steve Forbes, the publishing executive who ran for president as a Republican in 1996 and 2000, used the postcard as a campaign selling point, and others have followed suit.
Yet the Republican plan, developed by the House under the direction of Speaker Paul Ryan, is intended to eventually become the basis for legislation that could be signed by a president in 2017.