Date 10 March 1944
Author Henry Morgenthau
Title Secretary's Press and Radio Conference
Description press conference transcript
Location Box 51; Individual Taxpayers -- General; Records of the Office of Tax Analysis/Division of Tax Research; General Records of the Department of the Treasury, Record Group 56; National Archives, College Park, MD.

March 10, 1944

Q. How are you, Mr. Secretary?

H.M. JR: Fine, never better.

I understood that the President passed a question over to me about additional taxes. I have been in consultation, not only with the President, but with both Chairman George and with Chairman Doughton during the past week.

We have come to an agreement that the most important thing right now is the simplification of the tax forms, and that will be given right-of-way over everything else.

Q. Simplification of what?

A. Of your tax.

Q. Oh, yes. I thought you said something about a form.

A. Income tax.

Q. You mean the law?

A. Of the law, yes -- of the individual income tax. I have written a letter to Senator George -- this is just for your information; you needn't take this down; take it down if you want to -- and Congressman Doughton, and they have a statement a joint statement -- which they will give out.

Q. Today?

A. Now. Senator George is waiting in his office and has my letter. He is doing it for Mr. Doughton, because Mr. Doughton is away on official business. They have my letters and a statement which he is prepared to give out on this subject.

Q. Could you give us the gist of those letters?

A. Right along what I am saying. It is just on this subject of simplification of individual returns.

Q. The understanding is that they are to go ahead -- everybody is to go ahead with the simplification before anything else is done on the question of taxes.

A. Certainly. And there is agreement between the Executive end of the Government and the Legislative end that this should have the right-of-way.

Q. Do you go into the question of how to simplify, Mr. Secretary?

A. Not in the letters; but the Treasury technical staff and the Congressional technical staff have been working together extremely well and with encouragement not only from this end but from Senator George and Congressman Doughton, who have encouraged them to go on.

They are practically in agreement now as to how this thing can be done. It shouldn't take very long to get this legislation through. If they can get it through fairly promptly -- and tat is what I am urging -- we can get out the new forms so that, we hope, they might be effective by the September 15 return date.

Q. You hope it can be effective?

A. That is what we are aiming for, and that is what they would like to see us do.

A. Mr. Secretary, that still leaves unanswered the question as to whether there will be an additional tax recommendation.

A. Well, the answer is, this is going to get the right-of-way over everything else.

Q. When this is completed, what then, sir?

A. Well, as far as the Treasury is concerned -- let's say as far as the Executive end of the Government is concerned -- our position hasn't been changed as to need for additional revenue.

Does that answer that?

Q. That is as far as you want to go, sir?

A. That is about as far as I want to go.

Q. That still leaves a doubt in my mind as to whether there will be a request for additional taxes.

A. I can't answer you, because I don't know. But I am just saying, the position of the Executive end of the Administration hasn't changed any in its desires for additional revenue.

Q. I understand that. I am just wondering if you will implement those desires with requests for additional revenue.

A. I don't want you to get a direct quote out of this, but the point is that simplification comes first. I am not trying to fence with you, you see. Simplification comes first. After that, I don't know.

Q. I see, sir.

Q. Could you say whether you have discussed increased taxes?

Q. Can't we quote you as saying, "Simplification comes first; after that, I don't know"?

A. If you will add to that that the Administration's position has not changed in its desire for additional revenue. If you will add that --

Q. Very gladly.

Q. That means, Mr. Secretary, that in your conferences on the Hill you haven't made any arrangements for anything beyond the present considerations of simplification?

A. That is all. And the point is, in this agreement between the Executive end of the Government and the responsible Chairmen a lot of these administrative changes which people want -- hundreds of them will have to wait. They will have to be introduced as a separate bill. I mean, the Executive and the Legislative getting together this way, we can get through a bill on simplification, I am quite sure.

Q. You are talking about simplification, only, of the individual income tax?

A. Yes, but many changes they want -- a lot of changes we would like to have which would be necessary to corporate law -- all that will have to wait to get through this one piece of legislation.

Now, if later on somebody feels there is something very unjust in the corporate law he would like to have changed, they can introduce a separate bill. But this has the right-of-way.

Q. Mr. Secretary, is it possible that you might get new revenue incidentally from a simplification bill? I mean, from the process itself?

A. I don't think so. I haven't heard it discussed. It will just make life easier for a great many of us, I think.

Q. Mr. Secretary, what happens to our old friend, the Victory Tax?

A. You will have to wait a little bit on that, because I believe -- I don't know whether it has been announced -- that the Ways and Means are meeting on Monday. I think they will have something to report then.

Q. Mr. Secretary, have you worked out any sort of an arrangement on simplification with Senator George and Mr. Doughton?

A. We are practically in agreement. When I say "we," I mean our staff and the staffs of the Joint Committees. As far as I understand, we are practically in agreement.

Q. On simplification?

A. On simplification.

Q. They want to keep the distribution of the burden practically where it is now, Mr. Secretary, which, as I recall, is at variance with the position that you took.

A. If you don't mind, I'd rather not discuss what it is going to be. It is their move; it is their responsibility to legislate. We have been up there; we have given them the best we have had. And as far as I know, there seems to be, I'd say, complete accord.

Now they will meet on Monday, and they will consider these recommendations of their own staffs and ours, and I believe that they are so close together that I am hopeful that it will go through promptly.

Have you people some question?

Q. You say Senator George has the statement up at the Capitol?

A. Senator George is sitting in his office and will be very glad to see you ladies and gentlemen now.

Q. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

A. Thank you all.