The United States tax code is a thing of wonderment in its insane complexity. But what if we could massively simplify the code — without changing anybody's tax burden? David Brin, author of the Uplift novels, has a suggestion.

Writing in the Daily Kos, Brin suggests a "no losers" revamp of the tax code, that eliminates tons of provisions but ensures that the net result will not change the tax situation for 100 representative classes of Americans. You could model the tax code on a computer, and program it to eliminate excess provisions without causing any major changes to tax liabilities. Writes Brin:

There is nothing on Earth like the US tax code. It is an extremely complex system that nobody understands well. But it is unique among all the complex things in the world, in that it's complexity is perfectly replicated by the MATHEMATICAL MODEL of the system. Because the mathematical model is the system.

Hence, one could put the entire US tax code into a spare computer somewhere, try a myriad inputs, outputs... and tweak every parameter to see how outputs change. There are agencies who already do this, daily, in response to congressional queries. Alterations of the model must be tested under a wide range of boundary conditions (sample taxpayers.) But if you are thorough, the results of the model will be the results of the system.

Now. I'm told (by some people who know about such things) that it should be easy enough to create a program that will take the tax code and cybernetically experiment with zeroing-out dozens, hundreds of provisions while sliding others upward and then showing, on a spreadsheet, how these simplifications would affect, say, one-hundred representative types of taxpayers.

Check out the rest of his fascinating proposal at the link. [The Daily Kos via PopSci]