GOP’s Cruz correct about wordiness of IRS code compared to Bible

For the full fact-check with all sourcing please see

“There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible.”

— Ted Cruz on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 in the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, Wis.

During the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, Ted Cruz compared two volumes — one beloved by many, the other loathed by almost everybody.

“There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible — and — and not a one of them is as good,” Cruz said.

Our New Jersey affiliate checked a similar claim on length in 2013, so we’ll apply their research to Cruz’s claim here.

How long is the tax code?

A 2010 report by the Internal Revenue Service’s Taxpayer’s Advocate Office found that the tax code contained 3.8 million words. That calculation was made by downloading a zipped file of the code, unzipping it and running it through Microsoft Word’s word count feature, according to a footnote in the report. A 2012 version of the report puts the number of words in the code at “about 4 million.”

We also reached out to CCH, the Riverwoods, Ill.-based publisher of the two-volume 2013 Winter version of the tax code and was told the best estimate of word length was 4 million.

That was two years ago, but we think it’s a safe bet that the length of the tax code has only increased since then, not decreased.

How long is the Bible?

Dennis Olson, the Charles T. Haley professor of Old Testament Theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary, told PolitiFact New Jersey that a fair approximation of the Bible’s length is 800,000 words for the Old and New testaments combined.

“The King James Version would be 823,156 while the more recent New Revised Standard Version would be 774,746 words,” Olson said.

Hellen Mardaga, an assistant professor of New Testament at Catholic University in Washington, agreed that estimates that put the Bible at 800,000 words were credible.

Put it all together and the tax code is roughly five times as long as the Bible. So Cruz is correct.

Our ruling

Cruz said, “There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible.”

It’s generally accepted that the tax code is about 4 million words long and that the Bible is about 800,000. That’s five times as long. So Cruz’s claim is True.