For the first time in 20 years, I got a response from my republican senator in Congress, and he actually told me there was a committee assigned to "look" at the tax code. I can't believe he said that. It's so anathema to conservatives.
Yeah, in addition to the tax writing committees (Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee) there is a permanent Joint Committee on Taxation. From a wonky standpoint, the do a pretty good job. Check out http://www.jct.gov/
. They and the Congressional Budget Office are responsible for budget scoring for tax and spending proposals which are required for every bill, and they use a jointly developed economic model for that purpose. The administration uses a different model, which is why sometimes a proposal the administration says will save $30 billion ends up with a JCT/CBO score saying it will save only $20 billion (the other reason the figures differ is that the CBO rescores the bill after all amendments and the Treasury does not). Other good stuff on tax policy is the annual report of the Office of Taxpayer Advocate and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). And of course there is the ever popular Statistics of Income Division of the IRS. This is the source material that the media and pundits get their information from, but they usually mangle it pretty badly. The source documents are pretty well written in plain English, and I wonder why people don't read the sources summary page themselves rather than hear hundreds of rehashings of the material. For example there is a report that lists the estimated JCT/CBO cost of each and every "tax expenditure" in the Code actually costs (Bet you didn't know that in 2009 corporations got $600 million in tax credits for "open loop biomass electric production facilities"; i.e. producing electricity from pigshit). http://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=3642
The same is true of most economic statistics. Check it out yourself.
Joint Committee on Taxation http://www.jct.gov
Congressional Budget Office http://www,cbo,gov
IRS Taxpayer Advocate http://www.irs.gov/advocate/
Statistics of Income Division http://www.irs.gov/taxstats
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/
Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov
Census Info http://www.census.gov
Economic statistics (don't get me started on why this one is so hard to access) http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea/economic-report-of-the-President