By David Cay Johnston
The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Since at least July 1, 1943, the day income tax withholding from paychecks began to finance war and tamp down demand for consumer goods, American politicians have promised a simpler tax system.

But while politicians talked on for seven decades, the code grew ever more complex with favors for this group or that, favors that mostly benefited the rich.

One country actually has created a very simple income tax. That would be China, its income tax filing rules modeled on those of the U.S. Congress circa 1913-1942.

Until Sept. 1 Chinese workers who earned less than 2,000 yuan per month (about US$313) paid no income taxes. That is when the threshold for paying taxes was increased to 3,500 yuan (about US$548). The change removed 60 million Chinese workers from the income tax rolls and cut taxes for another 24 million.