That’s a Mighty Big Postcard, Mr. Ryan

Matt Yglesias has unkind words today for Paul Ryan’s alleged “tax return on a postcard.” As he notes, we pretty much already have this in the Form 1040EZ, which would fit on a postcard if it weren’t for added fluff like room for your name and address and spaces for you to sign at the bottom. If anything, though, I think Yglesias is too kind. Here is my annotated version of Ryan’s postcard:

In other words, cut the crap. If you have simple wage income and take the standard deduction, your taxes are already postcard simple. For anyone else, the tricky part is calculating your income based on the rules passed by Congress and enforced by the IRS. Ryan’s postcard does nothing to change that, which means that in real life your postcard will be accompanied by dozens or hundreds of pages of additional worksheets, schedules, and references.

But who cares, right? Honesty is for suckers these days.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.