So I did my taxes over the weekend, and concluded that the baboons from quiz bowl must be in charge of the IRS/Congress as well. I had two jobs and interest from one bank, and still clicked through something like three dozen pages of questions in TurboTax (from how many children do you have to did you sell a farm or produce ethanol to do you wish to claim the my cousin knows a Martian who once ran for governor of Indiana while a schoolteacher deduction...). Initially I had looked at the paper version of the applicable form, which since I made so little was the "EZ" edition, which still referenced some four other forms, tables, instructions, etc., all with four-digit numbers or weird letter codes, suggesting that there are at least 1,300 different possible forms for you to need for this process.
My conclusion? The professional tax preparers must be behind it all. There is no other reason we need this many different deductions, variations, and "if box 6 is greater than box 5, turn in three circles clockwise, if otherwise, turn counter-clockwise; regardless, fill in the sum of box 3, your birth year, and smallest car's license plate in box 7". I'd be much relieved if we could simplify tax law down to one or two pages of stuff. What do you think? There are various ideas that I've heard proposed for that, which people seem to like bickering about the relative merits of, so have at it! ;)