100 Million Unnecessary Returns: A Simple, Fair, and Competitive Tax Plan for the United States


100 Million Unnecessary Returns: A Simple, Fair, and Competitive Tax Plan for the United States



To most Americans, the United States tax code has become a vast and confounding puzzle. In 1940, the instructions to the form 1040 were about four pages long. Today they have ballooned to more than a hundred pages, and the form itself contains more than ten schedules and twenty worksheets. The complete tax code totals about 2.8 million words – about four times the length of War and Peace. In this intriguing book, Michael Graetz maintains that our tax code has become a tangle of loopholes, paperwork, and inconsistencies – a massive social program that fails tests of simplicity and fairness. More important, our tax system has failed to keep pace with the changing economy, creating burdens and wastes of resources that weigh our nation down.

Graetz offers a solution. Imagine a world in which most Americans pay no income tax at all, and those who do enjoy a far simpler tax process – all this without decreasing government revenues or removing key incentives for employer-sponsored health care plans and pensions. As Graetz adeptly and clearly describes, this world is within our grasp.



Publication Date



Yale University Press


New Haven, CT


“Michael Graetz has done the near-impossible. He has come up with a sweeping tax reform plan that would simplify the system and retain the progressivity that is the linchpin of the American tax system. The book ought to appeal to liberals and conservatives and ought to be read by every presidential candidate out there."
Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute and co-author of The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track

“This is must reading for presidential candidates, members of the tax writing committees of Congress and all Americans who are interested in a growing economy. It should inspire us to summon the political will to scrap our broken tax system and replace it with one that is simpler, fair and better able to serve the economic needs of America.”
Jack Danforth, former United States Senator

“There are few people on earth who understand the economics, the law, and the politics of the tax system as well as Michael Graetz. When the nation finally gets serious about reforming the tax code, this important book will be one of the reasons.”
Alan S. Blinder, Professor of Economics, Princeton University, former member of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, and former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve

"The most interesting [tax] plan I've seen."
David Ignatius, The Washington Post

“Michael Graetz, one of the world’s leading tax policy experts, has put forth a plan that joins sensible economics with political possibility. His proposal should be essential reading for the next president.”
Glenn Hubbard, Dean, Columbia University Graduate School of Business, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under President George W. Bush

"Michael Graetz ... has a dream shared by millions of taxpayers: an America where April 15 would be just another spring day. In his book ... Graetz outlines a plan to eliminate the income tax for most Americans. He would replace it with a value-added tax that would be levied on goods at each stage of exchange, from the producer to the consumer."
Matthew Bandyk, U.S. News & World Report

"All CPAs could find value in reading this book."
Tonya K. Flesher, Journal of Accountancy


Also available as an eBook through the Columbia University Libraries.


Law | Law and Economics | Taxation-Federal | Tax Law

100 Million Unnecessary Returns: A Simple, Fair, and Competitive Tax Plan for the United States

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