This is a book to wince at. What Mr. Stern has to communicate hurts us all in that most sensitive area, the wallet. Tax loopholes-- or as the author chooses to term them ""tax preferences""--are costing the U.S. Treasury a whopping forty billion dollars a year; which means, of course, that those of us who can't take advantage of such special treatment must pay for those who can. Mr. Stern does not debate the questions of how much the government should spend, how high the tax rates should be, or even whether they should be graduated. His main point is that once Congress sets those rates, they ""should be applied as uniformly as possible to all citizens"". His tour of inequities, from mineral depletion allowances to the sort of tailor-made amendment which saved Louis B. Mayer two million dollars is brilliantly witty and deliberately infuriating. The greatest injustice, he thinks, is in the capital gains system, the abolition of which he feels would be ""the single greatest tax reform this nation could undertake"". But this is no hasty diatribe directed at a few glaring faults; instead, it is a vastly informative survey of every aspect of individual taxation, and wherever two sides of an argument exist, the one with which the author does not agree is indicated fairly, if not fully described. Best of all, Mr. Stern has accomplished the impossible feat of translating an intensely dry and complex subject into extremely readable form.