Federal Tax Code and Regulations Now Exceed 10 Million Words in Length

Since 1955, number of words added grew at pace of 144,500 per year

October 12, 2015

The length of the federal tax code and regulations now exceed 10 million words, according to a report from the Tax Foundation.

According to the report, the federal tax code is 2,412,000 words long, and federal tax regulations are 7,655,000 words long.

In 1955, the federal tax code and regulations together totaled 1.4 million words. Since then, the combined length has increased more than seven fold, growing at a pace of 144,500 words per year.

According to the Tax Foundation, the length of the tax code correlates with the complexity of the federal tax system and the difficulties faced by Americans trying to file their taxes.

"The American tax code is intentionally complex—it’s Washington’s safe haven for carve-outs, loopholes, and subsidies for special interests," said Andy Koenig, Freedom Partners’ senior policy analyst. "America's tax code will continue to impede growth and opportunity until policy leaders prioritize reform and face cronyism head-on."

A Pew Research poll found that 59 percent of Americans say that the tax system is so flawed that Congress should overhaul it.

Nearly half of Americans—44 percent—say that the complexity of the tax code "bother[s]" them "a lot," according to Pew. That percentage increases as households make more money.

"Americans spend 6.1 billion hours and $233.8 billion complying with the tax code," states the report. "Due to increasing tax complexity, over 90 percent of taxpayers now hire professional tax preparers or use tax preparation software."

The longest novel written in English, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa, runs to some 984,870 words and 1,536 pages in a 1986 Penguin Classics edition, less than one-tenth the length of the tax code.

Published under: Taxes