In terms of inefficiency, the U.S. tax code stands as one of humanity’s most monumental accomplishments. It’s no secret that the tax code’s byzantine complexity harms small and medium-sized businesses more than large corporations. After all, bigger companies can afford the scores of lawyers and accountants needed to navigate the system — and for that matter, many of the arcane little exceptions and exemptions were written exactly to order thanks to the lobbyists they are able to deploy on Capitol Hill.But the extent of the differential is truly dramatic. Consider this story in the WSJ that reports how a large number of companies actually forgo tax breaks because the cost of obtaining tax benefits is more expensive than the benefits themselves. According to the article, individuals and businesses are spending at least 1 percent of GDP just to make sure they’re doing everything by the book. As anxiety intensifies over tepid GDP growth and decreasing competitiveness, a percentage point counts for a lot.To some businesses, tax cuts are just not worth the headaches. One credit for small businesses providing healthcare to their workers was available to between 1.4 million and four million businesses, but because the paperwork and calculations are so time-consuming, only 170,000 employers claimed the deduction. The Work Opportunity credit, which is supposed to reward companies that hire disadvantaged workers, such as ex-felons, teenage summer job seekers, or workers on welfare, is also vastly underused because the paperwork for each worker can take a year to process. That’s not worth the $2,400 tax break.That leaves us with a scenario in which businesses take only 5 percent of the tax breaks for which they are eligible. There were 1.78 million corporate tax returns in the U.S. last year, and only 20,000 claimed any of the three dozen main business tax credits in the code.The complexity of the country’s tax code has aroused concern from both Democrats and Republicans. President Obama proposed overhauling the tax code in his State of the Union address in February. Likewise, Governor Romney has called for a simplification of the tax code.One big reason for the proliferation of U.S. tax breaks—which have doubled in number since 1987—is political: It’s a lot easier for elected officials to pursue policy goals through tax breaks than by easing corporate tax rates or relaxing the rules. That, and the way that the ability to write loopholes unlocks big campaign contributions from companies who know how the game is played.A simpler code without the fancy social engineering bells and whistles is what this country needs. But to get that, we need something else: an honest and competent Congress that puts the public interest first.