Peter Boos on Restyling the Tax Code

Munger, Tolles & Olson attorney Peter E. Boos published an article in the July 17, 2017 issue of Tax Notes examining the pros and cons of restyling the increasingly complex U.S. tax code.

In “Decoding the Code,” Mr. Boos describes how the tax code became so difficult for the average citizen to comprehend. He discusses the negative impacts of that complexity, including higher compliance costs for taxpayers and lost revenue for the government.

Mr. Boos points out that, among other detriments, the complexity of the code strains the relationship between the IRS and the general public. He writes that restyling sections of the code could improve the relationship between government and citizens and make it easier for the government to distinguish between fraudulent activity and user error.

Mr. Boos writes that the end game for simplifying the code is not policy change, but “to replace existing provisions with new ones that achieve the same ends through simpler statutory language.”

Mr. Boos also describes the drawbacks to restyling the code, including the risk of oversimplification and significant costs, but argues that the revised code could serve as a model for state and local governments to simplify their tax provisions and create a more transparent taxing system.

Based in Munger Tolles’ Los Angeles office, Mr. Boos advises on tax issues related to mergers and acquisitions (including tax-free reorganizations and spin-offs), joint ventures, divestitures, financings, and bankruptcy and insolvency restructurings across a variety of industries.