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Tax Notes Today

Tax Notes Today

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Published by The Washington Post
Article written by Robert J. Wells on length of tax code in 1997
Article written by Robert J. Wells on length of tax code in 1997

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Published by: The Washington Post on Oct 26, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Tax Notes Today
 November 18, 1997Neiman-Marcus Cookie, Meet the 9,451-Page Internal Revenue CodeWhile some GOP members of Congress rail against a tax code they sayhas grown to 9,451 pages in length, the January 1997 edition of TheComplete Internal Revenue Code (RIA) was only 2,679 pages, includingthe index, amending acts table, and table of sections.Among the slices of gospel truth that have been widely circulated inthe ongoing debate over the simplification or elimination of the InternalRevenue Code is that that venerable document is 9,451 pages long.See, e.g., "Tax Reform Fever May Be Spreading: After Va. Sweep, GOPCongressional Candidates Take Aim at IRS Code," The WashingtonPost, Nov. 13, 1997, p. D5. (We'll just note in passing the Ebola virus-like spreading of another canard, that the Internal Revenue Code is theproduct of the Internal Revenue Service. And members of Congresswho continue to call it "the IRS code" should be ashamed.)Back to the main story. A code, any code, that is 9,451 pages longwould seem to be a worthy target for the legislative equivalent of Slim-Fast. But does such a code exist? We dispatched a crack Tax Analystsinvestigative team to research that question.Here's What We FoundOur sleuths located the January 1997 edition of The Complete InternalRevenue Code (RIA), "updated to reflect all tax legislation throughDecember 31, 1996." They turned to the last page -- and it is indeednumbered 9,451. This was clearly good enough for some, but not forus. Aware of the often-confounding pagination system used forstatutes, codes, etc., we dug a bit deeper and found sizable gaps in thecode's pagination. In fact, we found gaps that would have made DickNixon proud. Here is the actual pagination of the Internal RevenueCode:
Index to Code pp. 101-300 200 pages
Amending Acts Table pp. 401-417 17 pages
Table of Sections pp. 501-529 29 pages
Income Tax pp. 1,001-1,575 575 pages
pp. 2,001-2,420 420 pages

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