Thursday, November 03, 2005

Our Onerous Tax Code: An Opportunity for Bush to Seize the Moment

Our Onerous Tax Code:  An Opportunity for Bush to Seize the Moment

Ask anyone in the country to the right of Teddy Kennedy and Barbara Boxer and they will readily tell you that our method of levying and collecting Federal income taxes is broken – antiquated, unfair, onerous, and immoral.

Some of the best criticisms of the current Federal Tax Code and its morally bankrupt enforcement agency – the Internal Revenue Service (IRA) – have come by listening to local San Antonio radio talk show host Carl Wiglesworth, who can currently be heard Monday through Friday, from 3:00 PM to 6:00PM (Central) on AM 1310 KAHL.  

As Wiglesworth so sagely points out that the greatest value to the Government (and its greatest concomitant danger to the American people) of the current Federal income tax system is NOT the collection of revenue, but rather its ability to pry into our private lives, as well as to manipulate them.

What does Wiglesworth mean by this assertion?  Well, think for a moment, of the incredible waste of productive time (both the Government’s and the American people’s) spent completing (or cheating on) their tax returns.  Just one example:  You tell the Government who your favorite charities are and how much you give them.  

Moreover, the Government uses the tax code to manipulate our behavior.  What does Wiglesworth mean?  Have you ever gone out of your way to do anything to get a (bigger) break?  If so, you were thereby demonstrating the Government’s ability to manipulate you as though you were a laboratory mouse.

Most important, Wiglesworth asserts, the current tax model gives politicians their power – not only to manipulate us, but also to – buy votes by promising to reward (or punish) one constituency or another by adding a tax break here or raising taxes there.

The IRA spends millions of manhours and billions of dollars running their inefficient system.  If the Government’s desire is simply to raise revenue – rather than to intrude on our privacy and manipulate our behavior, Wiglesworth asserts, then there is nothing so easy as doing the following:  1.)  Abolishing the IRS; 2) abolishing the Federal income tax altogether; and 3) imposing a (say, 17%) national sales tax on EVERY sales transaction taking place in this country.  

If your first objection is: If the IRS is to be abolished, who then will do the necessary work of collecting taxes.  But, you already know the answer:  The same people who collect the STATE-level sales taxes in your country (the merchants and vendors of America).  Or, if you are thinking that my hypothetical figure of 17% is outrageous, think again!  If income taxes were abolished, you would be saving OODLES of money BEFORE the imposition of the national sales tax.  (As Wiglesworth explains, we pay for other people’s income taxes with every transaction – from the purchase of a loaf of bread to buying a car.)  

Best of all, as Wiglesworth notes, unlike our current Federal income tax system, which (for the honest) gives us virtually no choice as to how much we wish to spend in taxes, a national sales tax would give EVERYONE a GREAT DEAL of choice.  How is that, you ask?  Well, because, if you do not wish to pay the tax on something, then you simply do not have to make that particular purchase.

Of course, liberals will cry that such a national sales tax is “regressive” (a logical falsehood), but there is really no justification for excusing anyone with money from paying his share of taxes.  Moreover, the best part is that those who are now dodging paying any taxes under the current tax system altogether will FINALLY be FORCED to pay their share in taxes.  How, you ask?  By buying whatever it is they choose to buy.  With a national sales tax, everyone pays – and everyone pays at the same rate.

Best of all, we will no longer have to be reporting to Uncle Sam where we keep every penny we have invested in stocks or in bonds or in savings.  Really, it is none of his business anyway in a free republic.

Unfortunately, as Robert Novak points out, the (bipartisan) Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform that President Bush appointed some 10 months ago has this week released its recommendations for tax “reform,” and they amount to little more than minor tweaking of the current tax system.

As Novak leads us to infer, if President Bush wishes to play a hand in the economic rejuvenation of America’s vibrant (but seriously hampered) economy, he must seize the moment and toss out this stodgy panel’s stale recommendations and he must boldly recommend reforms to our Federal tax code along the lines of those outlined above.

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