One of the advantages of that complexity is that it allows a lot of flexibility to account for all kinds of income and all kinds of deserved exemptions from taxes (such as the catastrophic losses of the victims of Hurricane Sandy). In relation to President Obama's agenda, I notice he is trying to incentivize small businesses through the tax code, and to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Complexity does offer that advantage, at least. One of the interesting aspects of all of that complexity is that the algorithm defaults to simplicity, merely by not claiming any of the deductions or exemptions that require the various schedules and attachments to the 1040. Simpler yet is 1040 EZ. The most common deductions and exemptions are mortgage and dependents, and those should be simple enough for most people to understand. I think your argument--that paying federal and state taxes is excessive--is valid. At least the IRS cuts us slack by allowing us a deduction for the state taxes--although that adds a line or two to the accounting problem, which gets back to complexity. I'm also imagining the Tea Party running with this ball, taking over a state assembly and simply choosing not to pay the bill at all--the way they were talking about secession. It turns out that certain federal laws come with incentives to get states to come into compliance. Dangling a carrot has its advantages. These kinds of laws would be put in jeopardy if there was a loss of incentive. Imagine trying to get the Supreme Court to rule on case against a state for polluting, which also happens to be holding up funding for the federal courts. All kinds of double binds can be set up. My own favorite scheme is one in which April 15 is the day you vote your tax dollars. Once it's clear how much your tax bill will be, you are allowed to fund the Govt program by program by selecting which item to fund, and how much you wish to apply to it from the small fortune you are expected to relinquish. Congress gets to read the numbers on April 16th, and that's all they get for each program. This sets the agenda for the next fiscal year. It eliminates a lot of the incessant yammering, whether it's from politicians browbeating the public over whose programs are better, or the bitter taxpayers' perennial complaining over some unjust or ill-considered waste of "their" tax dollars. (At least by voting your tax dollars, they are truly yours!) It sounds infeasible, but I think the right technology could make it practical. The rest--having to follow a budget ordained by the people--would also allow taxpayers to get a taste of the consequences of citizenship. (You get what you pay for.) For one thing it would completely overturn the political landscape and eliminate gridlock and all the styrofoam that diverts resources from the important matters of the day.