04/19/2017

Why Do We, A Free People, Put Up With The Atrocity Of The Federal Income Tax Code? [Watch]

Steve Forbes, Forbes.com

WHY DO WE spend more than $400 billion a year complying with the federal income tax code?

Why do we spend more than 6 billion hours a year filling out tax forms?

Because our current political power structure thrives on it. Washington politicians and the numerous lobbyists roaming Capitol Hill like things as they are. The pols will never make such a confession, but tax code complexity is an enormous source of power for them. Trade groups and their hired hands on the Hill justify their opulent existence by claiming to protect tax breaks that are essential for civilization. The most notorious of these groups are the housing and charitable lobbies.

The American public would gladly ditch the current monstrosity for a system in which a person could file his or her return on a single page or by a few keystrokes on a computer; i.e., the flat tax, a system that is already in existence in over 40 countries and jurisdictions, such as Hong Kong. It works.

But try to get an American politician to make it a front-burner cause! Most are too scared to attempt it. They'll mumble about the need for a tax code that is "simpler and fairer," but that's it. They fear getting in the lobbyists' crosshairs. They tremble at being accused of benefitting the rich, while shafting the poor and gutting health care and the tax breaks of home ownership and charitable giving.

There are powerful, conclusive arguments aplenty that respond to all of these objections, including a couple of books of my own, the latest being Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed Will Restore Hope and Prosperity. 

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Thanks to "bracket creep," the inflation of the 1970s pushed millions of taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising. To help offset this tax increase and also to improve incentives to work, save, and invest, President Reagan proposed sweeping tax rate reductions during the 1980s. What happened? Total tax revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s, and the results are even more impressive when looking at what happened to personal income tax revenues. Once the economy received an unambiguous tax cut in January 1983, income tax revenues climbed dramatically, increasing by more than 54 percent by 1989 (28 percent after adjusting for inflation).

 

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