According to the IRS, the average tax payer spends nearly 13 hours compiling receipts and forms just for completing their taxes. Spread that time out across the U.S. and one finds that, as a country, America spends 6 billion hours total doing its taxes, the equivalent hours for a full-time workforce composed of 13 million people.

On top of all of the human effort just to fill out tax forms, is the fact that many feel the tax code is an unjust wreck, full of loop holes and deductions designed for the rich, and only accessible to those with a savvy tax expert.

Indeed, understanding the code is not easy. Just reading the code is a hurdle. It currently spans more thane four million words, nearly five times the number found in all of William Shakespeare's 43 plays.

When he signaled that he would be retiring at the end of the current term, Montana Senior Senator Max Baucus listed tax reform as one of the six items on his final agenda.

“Our tax code hasn’t been updated in 30 years, and it’s full of dead wood and red tape that hurts working families and small businesses and slows down our economy," said Baucus in a May 9 address. "Tax reform is about making the tax code simpler and fairer. It’s time to cut out loopholes and bring tax rates down. We’ve got to get this done and we’ve got to get it right. That means Congress needs to hear directly from the working families and small businesses who will be impacted by changes. That’s what is all about, and I urge folks to submit their ideas so we can make sure Montanans are heard in this debate.” is a joint effort by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Champ. Baucus and Champ are on opposite sides of the political fence and in completely different legislative houses, but they both agree America's tax system is broken and in need of repair. The new website is designed to gather ideas from the public in hopes of fixing the system. In the site's first 12 hours, received over 1000 submissions.

Baucus has also formed a 15 member panel composed exclusively of Montanans to help offer suggestions for tax reform. Below are the names and occupations of the Baucus work group as found on Baucus' senate website.


  1. Dr. Jane A. Karas -- Dr. Jane A. Karas is President of Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) in Kalispell.
  2. Alan D. Ekblad --Al Ekblad is the Executive Secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO and lives in Helena.
  3. Bill Johnstone -- Bill Johnstone is Chairman and CEO at Davidson Companies, a 78 year old financial services company, headquartered in Great Falls, with 1100 employees in 22 states.
  4. Mac McDermott - Mac McDermott is a member of MCR, LLC, an oil and gas exploration and production company. He also currently serves as Treasurer of the Montana Petroleum Association and President of the Northern Montana Oil & Gas Association. Mac lives in Shelby.
  5. Sheila Rice - Sheila Rice is Executive Director of NeighborWorks Montana and NeighborWorks Great Falls.
  6. Chuck Roady - Chuck Roady is the Vice President and General Manager for F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company in Columbia Falls.
  7. Bert Robins - Bert Robins is Vice President and Co-Founder of SeaCast, an investment casting foundry headquartered in Butte which operates four US-based manufacturing facilities, serving top tier customers in the aerospace, defense, transportation, mining, oil and gas, and computer hardware industries, among many others.
  8. Bob Rowe -Bob Rowe lives in Helena and is President and Chief Executive Officer at NorthWestern Energy.
  9. Larry Simkins - Larry Simkins has been President and CEO of The Washington Companies since 2001. He also currently serves as a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and lives in Missoula.
  10. Russel J. Spika - Russel J. Spika has been in Public Practice as a Certified Public Accountant in Lewistown, for 26 years.
  11. James Steele - James Steele is the former Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and past Chairman of the Montana Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council. He currently works as a tribal policy and government consultant and lives in Saint Ignatius.
  12. Gordon Stoner - Gordon Stoner is the Owner and General Manager of Stoner Farms, a fourth generation diversified family operation in Northeastern Montana raising durum wheat, peas, lentils, and cattle. His residence and primary site of farm operations is rural Outlook.
  13. Antoinette M. Tease - Antoinette Tease of Billings is a registered patent attorney who practices in the areas of intellectual property and technology law.
  14. Spencer Williams - Spencer Williams has served as the President and Owner of West Paw Design in Bozeman since 1996.
  15. Nicholas Wolter, M.D. - Dr. Nicholas Wolter is CEO of Billings Clinic, a fully integrated health system in south central Montana.



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