How Long Would It Take To Read the Entire U.S. Tax Code
U.S. Tax Code

How Long Would It Take To Read the Entire U.S. Tax Code

U.S. Tax Code

“Oh, January first. Better get started on those taxes, Neddy.” – Ned Flanders, The Simpsons

Ned Flanders does have a point. If you want to get a running start on filing your taxes before your accountant’s desk isn’t visible from the pile of paperwork that consumes it, you can file as early as January 27. You certainly don’t want to wait days before April 15 to attempt to mail them to the Internal Revenu Service (IRS). Everything you pay to the government comes from a long history of tariffs and taxation. 

History of taxes

Ancient Greece is where the start of the concept of taxation came from. Officials first created tariffs on imported goods. Understanding the effect the income had, governers found other goods (like land) that they could implement a tariff on to fund soldiers during times of war. During the Middle Ages, people saw the positives this type of government funding could have on the poor and began to tax the wealthy to help those in need. When American colonies erupted, the British taxed settlers in the new world until the colonies freed themselves from British rule. Still, the government knew what taxes could do to keep a country running. In 1926 they drafted the U.S. Tax Code.

What your taxes pay for 

A lesson about the U.S. Tax Code wouldn’t be complete without a bit of knowledge about what your taxes fund. Turbo Tax breaks it down program by program for you. 

  • 15 percent of all income taxes go to pay for defense.
  • 24 percent of tax revenue pays for the Social Security system
  • 26 percent of income tax revenue goes toward health care programs. 
  • 9 percent of income tax revenue on various programs that provide money for those in need.
  • 6 percent takes care of national debt.
  • 20 percent of spending goes to pay for numerous benefits for veterans and retirees.

The remaining goes to scientific and medical research, transportation and infrastructure spending, education, non-security international spending, and all other categories. All of this is detailed in the U.S. Tax Code or Title 26.

What is the U.S. Tax Code

The U.S. Tax Code or Title 26 are laws that the IRS enforces. The U.S. House of Representatives first published the original tax code in 1926. Since then, many changes in the country required many changes in the tax code. Some predict that the U.S. Tax Code is 70,000 pages. Other’s say it is 2,600 pages. In 2018 Forbes predicted that the tax code was 75,000 pages, explaining all the complicated reasons it is so lengthy. If you visit the U.S. Code website, you can see for yourself just how complex it is. In 2017, there was some talk about abolishing it altogether. For now, it keeps growing each year as new laws and regulations come about. 

The document is lengthy, is it possible that it would take too long to read?

There is an estimate of 500 words on a single-spaced document. If you multiply the number of pages (let’s go along with Forbes and say 75,000 pages) by the number of words per page (500), that would mean there are 3,750,000 words explaining taxes in our country! The average adult reads 250 words per minute. If our math is correct, those numbers equate to 150,000 words per minute. Broken down even further, you get the following:


Minutes Hours Days Weeks
90000 1500 62 8


This is all to say that if you read nonstop, you could finish reading the tax code in eight weeks. If you factor in sleep, the number of weeks will increase. Regardless, if you are a speed reader, you could get through it in half the time.

Luckily, you don’t have to read the entire tax code to pay your taxes on time. But if you ever cared to, we suggest doing so via speed reading. Speed reading helps with time, comprehension, and memory. Whether you’re a CPA, a sales rep, or a student working hard to get a degree that will launch your career, speed reading is a skill you’ll use to get you there. Click here to sign up for one of our speed reading courses today!

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