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August 26, 2008

Prof. Maule has been lamenting the unwisdom shown in the making of tax law. He notes that aspiring presidents don't grasp the basics either:

In another link sent by Mary, Obama tried to explain his mortgage credit proposal , but he slipped up describing current law. When he claimed that homeowners who itemize "get a mortgage deduction, up to $1 million," he made a mistake so classic that I usually find a way to work it into the exam or a semester exercise in the basic tax course. The $1 million limitation is on the amount of the acquisition mortgage, the interest on which is deductible. So if the interest rate on the mortage is 6%, the deduction is limited to $60,000.

Senator McCain isn't flawless on this score, either, as his referring to a proposed $7,000 dependent exemption as a "credit" shows.

I have the answer to this problem, of course -- require that all Congresscritters do their returns in public themselves via a live webcast. They can use Turbotax or the software of their choice, as long as all input screens and output are broadcast live on the web, with a sidebar for running viewer commentary. Or, perhaps, selected tax pros could do the kibitzing - think "Mystery Science Theater 3000," tax geek version. Naturally, the whole comedy should also be available for playback on YouTube. I think this would have two useful results: Congresscritters would have a stake in tax simplification, and they would learn the difference between a deduction and a credit.

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should also be available for playback on YouTube

Not so fast with the freebies, Joe!

I'd much rather see this as PPV; think how much we'd raise at $35 a pop.

Plus, the kibbitzers could have little buzzers they sound every time one of "our betters" goofs up.

Whaddya think?

Hank, this isn't about the money -- we're building a better America!

But I will take checks, cash or PayPal...

[i]we're building a better America[/i]

"Better, stronger...faster."

I get it!

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