Every year we hear the litany of phrases. Tax Reform. Tax Simplification. Tax Reduction.
Blah, blah, blah.
It hasn’t happened and it won’t.
Our poor handling of the Constitution in this regard has given almost unlimited power to congress. The tax code can be used to punish those who don’t play ball and reward those who do. States, industries, and sociocultural groups all feel the touch of the velvet fisted glove.
Further, it has given rise to the entire lobbying industry. As lobbyists curry favor amongst the powerful our congressional leaders receive perks, ego strokes and a feeding of their sense of importance and power. Worship at the altar of the tax break.
You get hours of forms to fill. An expensive tax preparer to pay. Convoluted “tax savings” plans like IRAs, 401Ks, and Flexible Spending Accounts. These things sound good on the surface, but would be unnecessary with a proper tax code. They really create jobs for paper shufflers and administrators while feeding you the illusion that the government is generously allowing you to keep more of your money.
Worst of all tax policy and positions can be tailored to the garnering of votes. Nothing like promising your voters other people’s money to assure popularity. “Hey, let’s you and me get together and mug that guy. He can afford it.”
As long as power, taxes and congress are tied together the last thing we can expect is any real change. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
Now that the pain we all feel for the sake of misappropriated congressional power ls over for another year let’s, just for fun, look at some alternatives to income theft, er, taxes. Basic ideas to think about, of course, not full fledged proposals.
A National Property Tax.
Consider. No forms to fill out ever. Value assessments are done locally. Collection methods are already in place. just piggyback on those. The tax rate could be graduated, based on the value of the property so the poor pay little or nothing and the wealthy pay more.
No convoluted set of deductions, no tax preparers to pay, hours of your life back from preparing forms and saving and sorting receipts, no class warfare, no irs, no audits. Paper pushing administrative jobs that build costs into our economy, like IRAs, 401Ks and Flexible Spending Accounts would no longer have a purpose.
Everyone knows in advance what will be due.
An estimated 14 trillion dollars is hiding from the tax man overseas. No reason for that anymore and who would care anyways?
Commercial properties would be taxed at their full value. No federal tax breaks due to local abatements. Lobbying for tax breaks ends. I can’t imagine a better platform to build a tax system on.
A True Sin Tax
Everybody loves a sin tax. They give one a moral justification to vote themselves other people’s money. “Oh. look. They smoke cigarettes! That’s morally wrong! Let’s beat them up and mug them and take their money!”
Why not have a real Sin Tax?
Let’s add on a 50% federal penalty to every criminal and civil fine in the country. You get a $100 speeding ticket, you pay $150. A corporation gets a $100,000 fine for something, they pay $150,000.
The calculation would be automatic, the courts are already there to handle collection, and people who have actually broken laws and/or rules get to pay.
Sounds like a plan to me. Got a light?
A Sort Of Sin Tax
Here’s one last idea for an alternative tax.
Let’s tax birth control!
A 10 cent per condom tax sounds like a winner to me. And perhaps a 1 dollar tax on a month’s supply of birth control pills. People aren’t going to stop having sex over a little tax. It’s a sure fire fundraiser. True, the devout Catholics will get a break, but the rest of us won’t be singing “I’ve Got Rhythm.”
And they said it couldn’t be taxed. Just to be safe, though, if I were president I wouldn’t present this idea until my second term….