W-4 redux

IF you liked the book(let), you'll love the movie. The Internal Revenue Service has put together a flick - a video, actually - to show the citizenry how to fill out their new, more complicated W-4 forms, worksheets and all.

We caught this little presentation at the local office cafeteria the other day, and about the best we can say about it is that we are now fully impressed with the magnitude of the task that lies ahead.

After a bouncy little musical intro, reminiscent of a TV game show, our hosts plunge into what they call ``a guided tour of the W-4 form.'' Like many federal forms, the W-4 goes quickly from the sublimely simple - ``Type or print your full name'' - to the simplistic - ``Enter your estimated deductions.'' Well, sure.

Even something like mortgage interest or state taxes can be hard enough to predict. Then there is the absurdity of asking taxpayers to project such things as medical expenses that they expect to be more than 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income, and casualty or theft losses in excess of 10 percent.

We felt more comfortable in our befuddlement, however, after discovering that Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) of Texas, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has complained to IRS Commissioner Lawrence Gibbs about the new form. ``Although I recognize that the IRS was working ... to devise a more accurate form, our goals will not be realized if workers are unable to decipher the form because of its complexity.''

Amen.

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