The departure of Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (he's going to be ambassador to China) and the accession to that post of Senator Wyden may be an opportunity for tax reform, Floyd Norris writes in an intriguing New York Times column:
Few senators have shown as much eagerness to work across the aisle as he has. He has been pushing his own tax plan in concert with Senator Dan Coats, Republican of Indiana. That plan at least broadly follows the lines of any tax overhaul now possible: a reduction in stated tax rates, with the loss in revenue made up by closing loopholes and exemptions.Senator Wyden is not talking about his plan now, pending his ascendancy to the chairmanship, but it remains on his website.
From the summary of the plan on Senator Wyden's Web site:
For individuals: Wyden-Coats reduces the number of individual tax brackets from the current six to three: 15 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent and eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax completely. Middle-class and low-income taxpayers will benefit from Wyden-Coats' near tripling of the standard tax deduction, which will not only reduce tax bills but relieve Americans of the stress and responsibility of maintaining the records and receipts needed to document itemized deductions. These simplifications alone will make it possible for most taxpayers to file a simple one-page 1040 form that most Americans will be able to fill out in less than an hour.