Best-selling author T. R. Reid voyages around the world to solve the urgent problem of America's failing tax code, unraveling a complex topic in plain English and telling a rollicking story along the way.
The US tax code is a total write-off. Overstuffed with loopholes and special interest provisions, it works for no one - except tax lawyers, accountants, and corporations, that is - certainly not me and you. Not for the first time, we have to tear it up and start over. That happened in 1922, and again in 1954, and again in 1986. There's a pattern here; we reach this point every 32 years. Which means the next complete re-write of the tax code is due in 2018. Can we write a new tax code that is fair and simple? Can we cut tax rates and still bring in the revenue required? In fact, we can - by learning from the world's other democracies. Around the world, wealthy democracies, from Estonia to New Zealand to the UK, have all reformed their tax codes, while the US has languished. With his penchant for making complex subjects accessible and even fun, T. R. Reid travels the world in order to find out what makes for good taxation (if that's not an oxymoron!) and brings that knowledge home.
So byzantine are the current statutes that by the government's own estimates, Americans spend six billion hours and 10 billion dollars every year preparing and filing their taxes. In the Netherlands it takes 15 minutes! Brilliantly successful American companies like Apple, Caterpillar, and Google pay effectively no tax at all because of loopholes which allow them to move profits offshore. Indeed, the dysfunctional tax system has become so easy to dodge that it is a major cause of economic inequality, as Warren Buffet and Thomas Piketty have pointed out. But it doesn't have to be this way, the ever-intrepid Reid proves, crisscrossing the globe, from the Czech Republic to Mexico. Doing our taxes may never be America's favorite pastime, but it can and should be so much easier.
Being a bit of a tax nerd, I was especially interested excited to read this book. It provides concise information on all of the different tax regimes worldwide in a comparatively unbiased way. You can learn about what other countries have done over many years, what worked, what didn't, and likely why. I think that even those that aren't that interested should read this book for an easy to understand summary of different tax policies. There are so many incentives out there and it's hard to sometimes follow what is being proposed by our government. This book will make you feel like an informed citizen, especially given all the talk about tax in the news. For those interested in getting to the facts on tax in a non-sleep inducing way, this book is probably for you.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
So the author seems ti think that, although the poor are not getting any poorer, the rich getting richer is still a,terrible thing, this book is well researched and very imformative.
Would you consider the audio edition of A Fine Mess to be better than the print version?
The author narrates the audio edition.
What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?
There is much we can learn from the tax experience of other countries.
Have you listened to any of T.R. Reid’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
No, this is my first.
What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?
There are so many that it is difficult to select the "most" interesting. The rationale for eliminating the home mortgage and charitable contribution deductions was an epiphany.
Any additional comments?
Having listened to the audio book, I realize that I have to purchase the Kindle edition for future reference--and am disappointed to see that there is no discount for having already purchased the Audible edition. This is a strong disincentive for buying the audio version of any publication that contains information a reader will want to refer to in the future.
As a business owner who has bought/sold/built houses on both sides of the Atlantic I thought I knew a lot about taxes. But I didn't until I read this book. Excellent arguments and illustrations.
It is repetitive and could be even better if reduced in size. But that is true of almost all serious books. Despite the redundancy I have started listening again so I can take notes for future references.
Thank you Mr. Reid for the information and making learning so interesting.
he book consists of descriptions of other countries successful tax practices, and how they contrast with USA tax practices. The book documents how much money the USA government looses every year by having complex-obscure tax laws, versus how much money the government could get via simplifying he code. The author spent a considerable time completing the research and even praises what the irs is currently doing well. The conclusion is very interesting and serves as a good review of what has worked in other countries and why. The US government definitely needs to overhaul the tax code and start from scratch.
This is the best book on tax policy that I know of. Also the only one.
good basic overview on the need, benefits and methods of taxation. Helps keep the dinner arguments in perspective
Great book, T.R Reid’s narration perfectly fits the story. I only had some tangential knowledge about taxes before reading, but I feel a lot more educated on the topic after A Fine Mess.
A great way to understand taxs from a voting perspective. looks at lots of different methods government's have tried different systems and the effects they had.
T.R Reid lays out the problems with the current tax system in a clear and concise manner (much unlike the current tax code) While the IRS is the much hated organization in the US , they are merely the messenger of a system designed by Congress. Eliminating loopholes and special deductions will probably never happen in the near future but if you are angry about the tax stance, listen to this book to see where your anger should be directed.