WE HAVE GENERALLY HIGH REGARD for Secretary of the Treasury James A. Baker III. But when he begs us, as he did the other day, to forgive him because "I was on vacation," when the new withholding tax form, W-4, was approved, we wonder how naive he considers us all.

It isn't as if this horror was dreamed up yesterday. We told readers the day before Thanksgiving that if someone had set out deliberately to sabotage tax reform, increase taxes, provide an unbelievable bonanza to tax accountants and assure that no one avoids struggling over a tax return, he couldn't have done a better job than the Internal Revenue Service. Was Mr. Baker so far from home that he failed to hear the anguished cries from 100 million or more taxpayers as they tackled the W-4?He now is telling the IRS to come up with something simpler. He is telling us, however, to keep on struggling. Otherwise, "we'll be in for a lot of unpleasant surprises." That could go both ways. If Mr. Baker can't help the IRS find its way back to reality, the taxpaying public might help arrange a permanent vacation.

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