It's a relief to some residents of Hamilton, Bradley, McMinn, Polk, Cumberland and Monroe counties in Tennessee that they have nearly six weeks extra to file their income taxes because of tornadoes that caused damage and disruption in the region this month. The extension also applies to people who only work in the counties or who were visiting at the time of the storms.
But Congress could make tax season easier for far more Americans simply through tax reform. A big part of the reason people seek extensions even when no disaster has blown away their receipts or destroyed the computers where they keep tax information is that the tax code is absurdly complex. It runs thousands of pages long, and tax preparation and compliance costs come to hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
We wouldn't need extensions or costly tax-prep services if we had a simplified flat-tax system, which would let taxpayers figure what they owe on a single sheet of paper.
It's a shame that isn't in prospect.