The Tax Code is Growing

The U.S. Tax Code used to be as thick as the typical novel before World War II. Now, it’s roughly 150 novels thick.


Between 1945 and 2004, the relative thickness of the Tax Code jumped by the thousands of pages. It only took the entire duration of World War II for the Tax Code to evolve from a little over 500 pages to a whopping 8,200. The push to raise money for the war effort is probably a factor in the exponential growth.


Starting in 2010, however, the growth of the Tax Code significantly slowed to a crawl, from 71,684 pages in 2010 to 72,536 in 2011. According to Political Calculations, this was around the time the Democratic Party lost the majority in both Congress and the White House. Republicans are known to be anti-tax, as far as reports go.


One thing’s for certain: the Tax Code may not see a simplified version other than from experts. The code changes yearly, if not daily. One day, you may be paying the 15-percent tax rate; the next day, you may be paying 20 percent. For the common taxpayer, there’s neither the time nor the need to read all 70,000-plus pages of the Tax Code. Fortunately, tax lawyers do.


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