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What a senseless waste of arboreal life...

The other day, I heard General Electric had set some kind of record for their 2005 federal tax return. I did some digging, and found this story.

The angle of the story is laudatory; it celebrates the single largest E-File of a tax return.

While they are thrilled, I am horrified.

GE's tax return was 237MB in size.

I file my taxes online, too. The PDF usually runs about 35K. By my calculations, GE's tax return was over 6,700 times larger than mine.

Had it been printed out, it would have been about 24,000 pages.

Next time you're in a Staples, look at a case of paper. That's a lot. Each holds 5,000 sheets of paper, and they weigh about 40-50 pounds. GE's tax return -- JUST the return -- would have consumed FIVE of those. That's roughly my weight in dead trees.

A good mid-range digital copier/printer spits out about 100 pages a minute. Just to print out that return would have taken FOUR HOURS -- and that's without taking time to change paper and toner, clear jams, and unload the output trays. After checking with someone in the business, they would want at least 12 hours to generate a single copy, and would prefer 24.

How much time and money was spent on preparing and checking this return? How many billable hours were spent by lawyers, accountants, and tax experts?

I know GE is a huge, multinational corporation, but the sheer magnitude of their tax return screams to me how messed-up our tax system is.

When something is this broken, there really is no choice to to dump the whole thing and start fresh.



Comments (17)

Watch, some congressman hea... (Below threshold)

Watch, some congressman hearing of this will propose a new rule: If your tax return is too big to be attached to an e-mail, you don't have to file.

(Tax preparers would love that -- everybody would itemize!)

And now you start to wonder... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

And now you start to wonder how serious the left is about protecting privacy from the government. Because the largest invasion of privacy by the government is through our tax codes. How many people do you let know the initmate details of your finacial situation? Ignore your accountant because you share that with him because of the tax code, not because you want him to know about it.

And remember, we don't have to raise money through an privacy invading income tax. A national sales tax would work just as well without the intrusion.

"When something is this bro... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

"When something is this broken, there really is no choice to to dump the whole thing and start fresh."

That's pretty silly.

GE owns most of the world now. GE could barely even list its own subsidiaries in 24,000 pages--and those subs are huge in their own right. Nothing is simple about the accounting of company that huge. I'm not shocked by the size of the return--not at all. Nor do I think it's any kind of indictment of the tax code.

I presume a big part of GE'... (Below threshold)

I presume a big part of GE's tax return is their itemizing of all of their depreciable eqiuipment. For my much smaller company, our tax return has about 30 pages listing everything from computers to desks to copiers to whatever.

Of course, if the IRS trusted companies to not abuse the depreciation deduction, we wouldn't have to include this information. Or, if we were allowed to immediately write off our capital purchases, we wouldn't have to include this information. But since neither is going to happen, I don't see anyway around the requirement.

And please don't say that we could avoid the mess if we weren't allowed to deduct depreciation as an expense.... not unless you're looking to crater the economy.

"GE owns most of the world ... (Below threshold)

"GE owns most of the world now."

No kidding. Everyone knows that they own NBC, and make appliances and lightbulbs, but my wife works for a GE-owned business as an accountant, and guess what they do there...

That's right, the obivous choice is vehicle leasing. They lease vehicles and construction equipment and anything on wheels that a company might not want to purchase outright. In fact, all of the Geek Squad bugs are actually owned by GE.

<a href="http://www.fairtax... (Below threshold)
Gmac:
Christopher Finke:... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

Christopher Finke:

Yeah, my fiance works at Universal Studios, which is also under the GE umbrella. Universal itself is far larger than most people even begin to realize, with its studio lots, theme parks, retail stores, licencing ventures, theaters, night clubs, restaurants, production companies, etc. The books for Universal alone must consume several rooms.

And you know who directly handles the payroll and benefits for all the employees of all those Universal companies? GE.

So yeah, 24,000 pages is not extreme. In fact, it's only a few bankers boxes of paper.

Gmac:www.absurdlyr... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

Gmac:

www.absurdlyridiculousfauxtax.org

S.A. > Server not found.</... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

S.A. > Server not found.

The link I provided has an alternative to the tax system we currently have now. Yours apparently leads to an alternative reality. Thnx for playing.

Sounds like it is time to g... (Below threshold)
Mike Boelter:

Sounds like it is time to get the Fair Tax passed. Check out http://fairtaxgroups.com/ to see what you can do to get the IRS out of our lives.

I have not heard a single a... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

I have not heard a single argument for the "fair tax" that was not born from ignorance and naiveté. The plan is ludicrous, but has the support of lots of gullible people. Sigh.

I know, "read the book."

I'll be shuffling off into the weekend, shaking my head in disbelief at the hords of supporters, and trying to forget the idiocy. It must be almost time for a Scotch.

A mid-range printer prints ... (Below threshold)
Printer Man:

A mid-range printer prints 100 PPM? Under what conditions? 15k Laser Monochrome printers only print around 50ppm or so :)

Yer numbers are actually short, Jay!

Printer Man,My God... (Below threshold)
JohnMc:

Printer Man,

My God Man! Who you been buying from dude?

I can buy a 50ppm printer from Xerox, monochrome, for less than 2k. Model 5500n. Or if you wish and want duplexing the 5500dxn for about $400 more.

I can put 4 Xeroxs in a printer pool for the $15k you mention and have the whole job done done in a couple of hours. Do this quite frequently for a Fortune 10 company. And have whole passel of $$ left over to party.

Printer 'Mon

Jay,By the way, an... (Below threshold)
JohnMc:

Jay,

By the way, any typical midrange (Xerox 4500, HP4100, Genicom ML450) network printer could do the GE tax return in one swoop. Put in a brand new toner cartridge. All you would have to do is keep feeding them reams of paper. And if you have access to a printer with the high capacity paper accessory you could just load it. Your biggest headache would be the output bin. Most of them only store about 100-200 pages out the std output tray.

If you denigrate the FairTa... (Below threshold)
SmartGuy:

If you denigrate the FairTax plan, you don't understand it. It is the obvious solution to anyone that takes the time to learn about it.

Dismissing somebody because... (Below threshold)
alecthemad:

Dismissing somebody because they denigrate the plan is not even a valid argument. Post the points of why it is the obvious solution or why it is so great.

My wife and I have made our... (Below threshold)

My wife and I have made our living for over 20 years from a small business that grosses about .4M and employs six part-time besides us. I've read the fair tax book and info on the web and I'd take that system in a heartbeat over the boxes of paper I have to collect/organize/produce now for taxes and having over one-third of every dollar that I ring into my cash register go to pay various taxes. I don't feel as if I'm "gullible" for thinking the fair tax would be much better than the current tax system in my specific situation and for believing it would be a tremendous boost for our economic system.




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