A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 03, 2015
“A tax can be fair or simple, but not both”

"A tax can be fair or simple, but not both” is an old tax proverb. Bernard M. (Bob) Shapiro, who was Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress from 1977 to 1981, testified before the Senate Finance Committee in 1984 and helped popularize the saying. A simple flat tax is not fair, Shapiro said, but adding deductions to make the tax fair does not make it simple.


The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress of the United States
Bernard M. (Bob) Shapiro
(Chief of Staff 1977-1981)
Education:
B.A. and C.P.A., Washington and Lee University
J.D. and LL.M., Georgetown University Law Center
Professional:
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Washington National Tax Services, Founder and Partner, 1981-present

Google News Archive
12-13 September 1984, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), pg. 3A, col. 1:
Federal tax system can be simple or fair—not both, accountant testifies
WASHINGTON (AP)—An efficient tax system can be efficient or it can be fair, but it cannot be both, says a lawyer and accountant who used to be the chief authority on taxes for Congress.

Bernard M. Shapiro, now national director of tax policy for Price Waterhouse & Co., a leading accounting firm, told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that much of the complexity of the system resulted from efforts to encourage certain social and economic objectives— not to raise revenues.

Google News Archive
12 September 1984, Lewiston (ME) Journal, pg. 20, col. 3:
Taxes: Either fair or simple, but not both
By Jim Luther
Associated Press

12 September 1982, Alamogordo (NM) Daily News, pg. 12, col. 4:
Taxes can be simple or fair
but not both, expert claims

By JIM LUTHER
AP Tax Writer

Google News Archive
11 February 1988, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), “Block’s gospel: Tax laws can be simple or fair but not both” by Max B. Knudson, pg. M1, col. 1:
“You can’t have tax simplification and tax fairness both. Those two terms are mutually exclusive. To the extent you want one, you have to sacrifice the other.”

And that, says Al James Golato of H&R Block Inc., is the bottom line of the new “tax reform” law that Americans will be coming to grips with between now and April 15.

Google Books
The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Your Taxes
By Scott R. Schmedel, Kenneth M. Mooris and Alan M. Siegel
New York, NY: Lightbulb Press, Inc. and Dow Jones & Co., Inc.
1994
Pg. 24:
How Tax Law Is Made
A tax can be fair or it can be simple, but not both.

The conflict between fairness and simplicity arises in the drafting of nearly every tax law. Tax experts often cite this rule of thumb: The fairer a tax law is, the more complicated it gets. It’s extremely difficult to make a tax fair to everyone and simple at the same time.

Twitter
Michael Spezza
‏@Spezzman
@7pmproject As my tax professor used to say, “The tax system can be either fair or simple but not both”.
4:25 AM - 10 May 2011

The Huffington Post
Pat Oglesby (Lawyer; Former Congressional tax staffer)
Bungling Bundling? Taxing Marijuana in Washington State
Posted: 08/03/2015 5:30 pm EDT Updated: 08/03/2015 5:59 pm EDT
An old saying has it, “A tax can be fair, or simple, but not both.” Washington State’s brand-new tax law about cannabis bundling proves the point.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, August 03, 2015 • Permalink