Accountants group backs tax simplification proposals

An advocacy group for accountants is backing many new proposals to streamline the tax code from the Senate’s current top tax writer.

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Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released a raft of proposals in November to make the filing process easier for the average taxpayer, just weeks before he was nominated to be President Obama’s ambassador to China.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or AICPA, said Thursday that it supported a raft of those ideas, including several measures to battle identity theft and putting scannable code on computer-prepared returns that are still mailed in.

“The AICPA consistently has supported tax reform simplification efforts because we are convinced such actions will significantly reduce taxpayers’ compliance costs, encourage voluntary compliance through a better understanding of the rules, and reduce the number of enforcement actions,” Jeffrey Porter, the chairman of the group’s tax executive committee, said in a letter to Baucus and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the top Republican on the Finance panel.

Baucus’s tax simplification draft was one of four that he released late last year, and likely the least controversial.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is expected to assume the Finance gavel when Baucus leaves for Beijing, and it remains to be seen how he’ll incorporate the Montana Democrat’s ideas into his own push for tax reform.

Baucus’s draft also had proposals mandating that more forms be filed electronically, and requiring more information for reporting mortgage interest. AICPA backs those proposals as well.