The tax system has seen its share of changes over the years. In 1943, the withholding tax on wages was introduced for the first time. In 1981, Congress passed the largest tax cut in American history, some $750 billion in cuts over six years. That was partially offset in 1982 and 1984 when Congress raised taxes to the tune of $265 billion.
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 is considered the biggest reform measure since 1913. The top tax rate on individual income was lowered from 50 percent to 28 percent, the lowest it had been since 1916.
But along with the lower rate came the elimination of certain loopholes to make up the lost revenue. And the act put in a $120 billion increase in business taxes.
President George W. Bush signed several tax cuts into law in 2001 for the third-largest tax cut since World War II. President Barack Obama's tax bill for 2013 kept some of the Bush tax cuts for lower incomes but raised levels for higher incomes, which had been reduced under Bush.
Among other moves, Obama restored the full amount of the payroll tax (6.3 percent) and raised the rates on capital gains and included a 3.8 percent surtax on incomes of $200,000 or more for single people to help fund the Affordable Care Act. The dreaded alternative minimum tax (AMT) received a permanent patch to try to keep thousands from having to pay it.
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Calls for tax reform have led to recent hearings on Capitol Hill. Suggestions include going to a flat tax and eliminating deductions like mortgage interest and charitable giving.
"We need a national sales tax or flat rate tax," said Nash. "Both would reduce the complexity and burden of our current system with a fair tax and the opportunity to abolish the IRS."
"It all depends on what you call fair," said Mehrotra, who also supports a national sales tax. "Medicare and Social Security aren't going away, so we need to fund them."
"We need taxation for progressive spending, but one thing that would be helpful is if we stopped trying to run every social policy through the IRS," he added.
"But getting tax reform done won't be easy," he added. "Everyone has a special interest they want to protect."