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‘Tax laws and sausage’: Financial expert discloses meaty nature of tax reform

“There’s two things you don’t wanna see be made: tax laws and sausage.”

Wilford Val Oveson, American Express Centurion Bank board of directors member, made light of the importance of understanding tax reform when he spoke with students and the public during his Nov. 20 lecture at Weber State University’s Davis campus.

Oveson drew upon his experience within the Internal Revenue Service and the Taxpayer Advocate Service, describing the tenuous relationship between the two organizations and the ongoing debate between either consulting TAS or the Office of Appeals for settling taxing controversy.

He also discussed the purpose of the IRS and its conflict with Congress’s tax legislation process. According to Oveson, members in Congress often advocate tax breaks for their constituents that differentiate them from the rest of the country, further complicating tax laws.

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Photo credit: Ryan Marion

“There was no constituency for simplification. You don’t have lobbyists and you don’t have people making contributions and paying lobbyists to advocate for simplification,” he said.

Oveson argued the lack of constituency for simplification in taxes affects both the complexity of state’s tax handling and national businesses. He pointed at the recent news of Amazon’s struggle with states that are demanding sales tax for their business on the website.

“The history of taxation has everything to do with Amazon right now,” Oveson said.

The lecture was organized by Professor Ryan H. Pace to complement what students have learned about social science, tax laws and the IRS. Sophomore student Wyatt Berdinner is a student who was not required to attend this lecture but instead chose to attend because of a requirement in another class.

He said he learned about topics he would have otherwise never considered, such as the history of finance and the struggle of reshaping the IRS every 10 to 15 years. Regardless, he struggled to understand the details of the lecture.

“I can’t tell you any details from the speech, but it seemed a little more informed of what is going on in the state tax-wise. … I felt he (Oveson) was kind of tailoring the speech to that particular audience, but I tried to hang in there as much as I could,” Berdinner said.

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