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I feel pretty confident that I can master this tax thing if I hang around here long enough.

I'd like to piggy-back on the previous poster's comments. The U.S. tax code is complicated and dynamic. As a taxpayer, you should develop a grasp of tax fundamentals, you should be able to complete a simple tax return and follow a complex tax return, and you should be able to participate meaningfully in political debates on tax policy. However, to master the tax code, you must devote considerable time and effort to the task.

Every year Forbes Magazine does a feature article around tax time on a competition between tax professionals. Forbes creates a hypothetical family with some interesting tax problems, and asks the competitors to prepare a federal tax return for this family. Every year, the range of tax due for this family is huge, and the competitors get into all kinds of arguments to support their view of the tax problems the family faces. The point is that the U.S. tax code is hard, and even the pros have problems interpreting it.

I applaud your efforts to master the tax code, but I urge you to keep your expectations realistic. Personally, one of my goals in life is to become a serious source of aggravation to my lawyer and accountant. I'd be thrilled if my lawyer and accountant both had mansions and yachts they purchased with fee revenue I generated for them.

David Jacobs
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