D.L. STEWART: Finding time for TV can be a taxing problem

Now that he’s handled that health care thing, President Trump can turn his attention to reforming taxes.

I wish him well. But I've wished that same well for every president since LBJ, and it hasn't seemed to do much good.

In 1969, when Lyndon Johnson was president, the U.S. tax code was 16,500 pages long and there were three or four forms I had to fill out. Which I could accomplish during a commercial break during “Gilligan’s Island.”

By 1984, Ronald Reagan was president, the code had grown to 26,300 pages and I missed an episode of “Cagney & Lacey” filling out my forms.

In 1986 I got my hopes up when Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act, which he said would be “Fair and simpler for most Americans.” But by 1995 Bill Clinton was president, the fair and simpler tax code had swollen to 40,500 pages and I missed an entire season of “N.Y.P.D. Blue” doing my taxes.

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(The current code, in case you’re planning on reading it before the filing deadline, is 73,954 pages. So you’d probably want to get right on that.)

When I realized I no longer could calculate my taxes, I started paying an accountant to handle them. Each year she sends me a questionnaire to fill out. This year I spent most of January and half of February doing that.

The questionnaire was 22 pages long, including a checklist of 65 questions. The first question, for instance, asked if I have proof of health insurance (Form 1095-C). I do. My health insurance never has actually paid for any claim I submitted, but at least I have it.

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The second question had to do with fiduciary things (1099-R), which I may or may not have. Question No, 3 concerned interest income (1099-INT) from my bank. According to our bank statements, my wife and I raked in $13.84 worth of interest on our joint account, which we blew in a wild spree at Taco Bell.

Once all the boxes were checked I had to locate the tax forms and documents that have been multiplying like gerbils in various file cabinets, desk drawers and shoe boxes since last April 15. That took care of the rest of February and most of the NCAA basketball tournament.

By last Wednesday I finally had checked the boxes, filled out the forms, stuffed them all into a crate and hauled them to my accountant.

If Trump really does reform the tax code, maybe next year will be easier.

But my guess is that if presidents keep reforming the tax code, eventually I’m going to have to give up watching television entirely.