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Congress: You guys speak plainly, but we'll continue to babble gibberish

October 14, 2010

The Tax Prof reports:

President Obama yesterday signed H.R.946, the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires all federal agencies—including the IRS—to use "writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience."

It's funny that they can pass a "plain language" law with a straight face, considering their own work, like this random item from Section 409(p):

(5) Treatment of synthetic equity

For purposes of paragraphs (3) and (4), in the case of a person who owns synthetic equity in the S corporation, except to the extent provided in regulations, the shares of stock in such corporation on which such synthetic equity is based shall be treated as outstanding stock in such corporation and deemed-owned shares of such person if such treatment of synthetic equity of 1 or more such persons results in—

(A) the treatment of any person as a disqualified person, or

(B) the treatment of any year as a nonallocation year.

For purposes of this paragraph, synthetic equity shall be treated as owned by a person in the same manner as stock is treated as owned by a person under the rules of paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 318 (a). If, without regard to this paragraph, a person is treated as a disqualified person or a year is treated as a nonallocation year, this paragraph shall not be construed to result in the person or year not being so treated.

Yes, folks, this is the exciting stuff we tax geeks get to work with.

The Moral? Plain English is for little people.

UPDATE: I see from the TaxProf's comments that Jim Maule agrees with me on this, if not on much else lately.

FURTHER UPDATE: Peter Pappas weighs in.

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