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Will You Answer What Congress Won't? The Top 20 Questions pt 7

Back in late 2004 and early 2005, I sent emails, faxes, and letters to every member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. In it, I asked them for their answer to a set of twenty questions which the readers of Polipundit wanted asked. The text of the letter was posted here.

52 Readers in 38 states joined the effort, asking their district Representatives and Senators to answer the questions. Response from our elected Representatives and Senators was poor, predictably so. Most Congressmen and Senators simply ignored the letters, emails and faxes. In the end, only seventeen answered with any degree of substance, and not one answered more than two questions.

I was looking at the set of questions this week, and you know, they still look like good questions to me, so I am going to ask you for your opinion on them. This will take a while, since I am putting up one question for each post, but please give this your serious consideration. And folks, this is not about politics or smacking down the other side; this is an opportunity to explore the issues of substance for our country. Sad that Congress was not up to it, but maybe we can get the conversation going. Thanks in advance.

7. Where do you stand on eliminating the income tax and SSI tax and replacing them with a national consumption tax?


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Comments (19)

Doing away with the income ... (Below threshold)

Doing away with the income tax will lessen the power of Dems, so that'll never happen.

Eliminating SS will somehow be presented as a tax cut for the rich, so that'll never happen.

I can however see a consumption tax being instituted, knda like how its being done now on cigarettes.

I dont think these guys are dumb enough to go to the length and severity of the 'yacht tax', but everyone knows the dems are looking hard to find a way to tax everyone, but their own constituents.

A consumption tax(maybe on bottles of wine more than, say, $10-15) might be a way for them to show the common man, err, to get more control and levy more taxes.

The most damning indictment... (Below threshold)

The most damning indictment of the income tax came about 10 years ago, when Money magazine asked something like 40 tax preparers to prepare one family's taxes. No two preparer's calculations were the same, and one matched what Money came up with on its own. Ever since Schedule D went to four pages several years ago, I have had absolutely no idea whether the 1040 I'm submitting is correct; I just plug the numbers in the software and pray. I have no idea what my liability might be this year, and if I owned a business, how could I plan for the future with the uncertainty of the 2008 elections looming?

An income tax penalizes work, savings and investment. Through multiple rates and deductions, it gives the government too much control over our lives, and makes it all but impossible to plan for the long term.

But a consumption tax will never happen, because Congrees won't relinquish its ability to control our lives and because, no matter how bad or unfair the present system is, Americans will universally suspect either that they will pay more, or that somewhere, somebody will be paying less.

If you've not seen t... (Below threshold)

If you've not seen the movie, now on DVD, "America, Freedom to Fascism" by Aaron Russo,
it's worth seeing.
This country did quite well without the income tax, which was termed a temporary tax to help
pay for a world war.
I'd abolish it completely. Most of the taxation should be done by the individual states.

I would love to see those t... (Below threshold)

I would love to see those taxes go away. A consumption tax or a "sin tax" - a consumption tax is to tax the purchase of some consumable. A sin tax is to tax something that we shouldn't be doing.

I propose a 1$ per ounce alcholic drink tx. (by the container or in the clubs. Further, that casinos all have to charge it too, no loophole about seperate nations allowed.

Tax people on their actual ... (Below threshold)

Tax people on their actual lifestyle, not their potential lifestyle...consumption tax yes.

It is way past time that th... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

It is way past time that the MSM quit saying that large Corporations(especially those like Halliburton)are not paying their fair share of taxes by moving off-shore. It is clear, those individuals making more than a million $$ a year would be devastated by a higher income tax.
Thank God the Republicans saved credit card companies a couple of years ago when they would have collapsed. Thank God the oil companies are saved from collapse by subsidies.

Yeah a moonbat like me would provide a link to a communist like Warren Buffet..but here it is

Yeah a moonbat like me w... (Below threshold)

Yeah a moonbat like me would provide a link to a communist like Warren Buffet..but here it is

Logical fallacy: Appeal to authority

Logical fallacy: Appeal to ... (Below threshold)

Logical fallacy: Appeal to authority

No, Logical fallacy: Expressed and concieved by nogo.

Anway, that aside, consumption tax is the way to go. Encourage folks to earn more, to save more, to invest more.

At the end of the 18th Cent... (Below threshold)

At the end of the 18th Century, America proclaimed its independence from the tax slavery of Britain, and codified our soverignty, self-rule and liberty, as citizens, in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In 1913, the wealthy elite conspired with politicians to persuade an elitist president (a former president of Princeton University) to buy into a scheme to again make us slaves by signing the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax acts. The Fed would print money, at interest, and the income tax would ultimately be the vehicle to ensure its payment. It would be the bankers who would pat themselves on the back.

President Wilson would later say ( 3:42 into Russo video), "I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is now controlled by a system of credit. We are no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

And today many Americans are caught up in that "system of credit," much to bankers' delight, instead of working longer and harder hours. Why? Because of the increased tax bite that's taken from their paychecks. If you ask any worker about it, more than likely you'll receive a remark that expresses frustration, powerlessness, and the feeling like his, or her, voice doesn't matter because it's the politicians who are in control.

Of more urgent, and immediate, concern is the taxing of business income and payroll. Businesses attempt to recoup these costs by embedding them in their prices, which are ultimately paid by consumers. This pernicious system of hidden taxation accounts for 22 cents of every retail dollar spent by consumers. This gives Congress a "lever" to extract money from businesses, via lobbyists, to secure "tax favors" resulting in

• an increasingly complex, and expensive, tax code
• higher prices (or lesser dividends to shareholders/401Ks/public retirement funds, or lost jobs to employees - where foreign competition will not let a company raise prices)
• exports not price-competitive, globally
• company relocation to foreign countries with lower costs
• foreign products going untaxed upon entry into the U.S.

How serious is this situation? Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff is on record that, unless citizens' true tax costs are made visible by virtue of enacting the FairTax, politicians will continue to pit rich against poor, individuals against corporations, while they spend us into ruin.

Will the FairTax movement succeed in changing this tax slave / victim psychology? Do we, as individuals, have the ability to influence Congress to relinquish the power they've usurped from We, The People, freeholders engaged in free-enterprise?

First, let's understand how passage of the FairTax (HR 25) would actually affect us: Prices after FairTax passage would look similar to current prices - not "30% higher" as critics contend; the increased-competitive, tax-free business environment would see to it. So, the FairTax rate (figured as an income-tax-rate-non-comparative, sales tax) on new items would be 29.85% (on the new, reduced cost of items because business isn't taxed under FairTax - thus lowering retail prices by 20% to 30%), or 23% of the "tax inclusive" price tag - this is the way INCOME TAX is figured (parts of the total dollar).

The effective tax rate percentages, that different income groups would pay under the progressive FairTax consumption tax, are calculated by crediting the monthly "prebate" (advance rebate of projected tax on necessities) against total monthly spending of citizen families (1 member and greater, Dept. of HHS poverty-level data; a single person receiving ~$200/mo, a family of four, ~$500/mo, in addition to working earners receiving paychecks with no Federal deductions) Prof.'s Kotlikoff and Rapson (10/06) concluded,

"...the FairTax imposes much lower average taxes on working-age households than does the current system. The FairTax broadens the tax base from what is now primarily a system of labor income taxation to a system that taxes, albeit indirectly, both labor income and existing wealth. By including existing wealth in the effective tax base, much of which is owned by rich and middle-class elderly households, the FairTax is able to tax labor income at a lower effective rate and, thereby, lower the average lifetime tax rates facing working-age Americans.

"Consider, as an example, a single household age 30 earning $50,000. The household's average tax rate under the current system is 21.1 percent. It's 13.5 percent under the FairTax. Since the FairTax would preserve the purchasing power of Social Security benefits and also provide a tax rebate, older low-income workers who will live primarily or exclusively on Social Security would be better off. As an example, the average remaining lifetime tax rate for an age 60 married couple with $20,000 of earnings falls from its current value of 7.2 percent to -11.0 percent under the FairTax. As another example, compare the current 24.0 percent remaining lifetime average tax rate of a married age 45 couple with $100,000 in earnings to the 14.7 percent rate that arises under the FairTax."

Further, per Jokischa and Kotlikoff (circa 2006?) ...

"...once one moves to generations postdating the baby boomers there are positive welfare gains for all income groups in each cohort. Under a 23 percent FairTax policy, the poorest members of the generation born in 1990 enjoy a 13.5 percent welfare gain. Their middle-class and rich contemporaries experience 5 and 2 percent welfare gains, respectively. The welfare gains are largest for future generations. Take the cohort born in 2030. The poorest members of this cohort enjoy a huge 26 percent improvement in their well-being. For middle class members of this birth group, there's a 12 percent welfare gain. And for the richest members of the group, the gain is 5 percent."

Our "slavemasters," - elected, and not - scoff, "The FairTax is going nowhere." They do not believe we're capable of removing the shackles of an income tax system most of us have been born under.

Simply put, "If it's to be, the FairTax effort requires you and me." We must compel enactment of the FairTax bill and its salient provision to pay for government the way America's working men and women are paid - when, and because, something is sold! In the present political environment, we can accomplish our quest by:

• Becoming a recurring-donor member of FairTax.org
• Informing, and influencing, our family and friends on - and off - the Web.
• Setting up an automatic, recurring donation to those presidential candidates who ardently support the FairTax: Mike Gravel (D) and/or Mike Huckabee (R). You can do so via credit card, or even set them up as a Payee under your bank or credit union Bill Pay service, as follows:

Mike Gravel for President
P O Box 948
Arlington, VA 22216-0948
Phone: (703) 243-8303

Huckabee for President, Inc.
P.O. Box 2008
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203
Phone: (501) 324-2008

Let us bind together, with decisive action, to ensure April 15th soon becomes just another pretty Spring day.

(Permission is granted to reproduce any of my posts, in whole or part. - Ian)

Terrible idea. It fails th... (Below threshold)
Bill Woessner:

Terrible idea. It fails the Bill Gates test. How much does Bill Gates make in a year? 10% of his $56B fortune = $5.6B. How much of that do you think he actually spends? Well, he spends $1M on property taxes, alone. Suppose he spends 100 times that much. That's still just $100M - less than 2% of his income.

In broad terms, I favor an income tax far more than a consumption tax or any kind of wealth tax (e.g. property tax). But our income tax is just awful. We need to throw it out and start from scratch. And whatever replaces it needs to be engineered instead of allowed to evolve like the current system.

Mycroft -- A dollar an ounc... (Below threshold)

Mycroft -- A dollar an ounce tax on alcohol?!?!?!?


A dollar an ounce? NO WAY ... (Below threshold)

A dollar an ounce? NO WAY Kennedy would let that bill pass, he'd need to bring back much of the family fortune from his offshore hiding places.

BTW, just wondering, what kills more people, foie gras, trans fats or alcohol? Seems some want to outlaw certain consumables, but allow other far more dangerous consumables to continue unchecked.

Terrible idea. It fails ... (Below threshold)

Terrible idea. It fails the Bill Gates test. Which is why hard cases make bad law!
If Bill Gates buys a $500,000 auto (or several) he pays 25 times the tax of someone buying a $20,000 auto, no matter what percentage it is of his income!

The man who wants to limit his tax liability limits his spending. That's something that he has some control over.

"The man who wants to li... (Below threshold)

"The man who wants to limit his tax liability limits his spending. That's something that he has some control over."

Exactly. Real savings based on consumption would be the best reason, if we really could eliminate all of those other taxes.

The man who wants to lim... (Below threshold)
Bill Woessner:

The man who wants to limit his tax liability limits his spending. That's something that he has some control over.

But then what's to stop everyone from limiting their tax liability? There are 300 million people in the United States. If everyone only spends $10K (more or less the poverty line), then the tax base would be a mere $3T. Given current government spending, you'd then have to increase the tax rate to 100%.

I don't think someone making $5.6B per year should be given the choice of limiting his tax liability. The poor and middle class have to spend the vast majority of what they bring in, giving them no choice in the matter.

"I don't think someone m... (Below threshold)

"I don't think someone making $5.6B per year should be given the choice of limiting his tax liability."

I don't see why not. If you are using Bill Gates as an example, he is one of the greatest philanthropists in the world. He's given billions away including to his own foundation to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty.

Anyone who recommends a nat... (Below threshold)

Anyone who recommends a national consumption tax doesn't understand enough about economics to speak on the subject, Jay Tea. The only tax that I can think of that would be more regressive than a national consumption tax is a national lottery.

That said, most of our liberal politicians will be all over it as soon as they can figure out how to "reduce" the effective tax rate with one that is even higher. We'll be spending time enough talking about sweeping taxation "reforms" after the next elections.

SInce most consumption tax ... (Below threshold)

SInce most consumption tax models I have seen give a check for the basic cost of living back to everyone, your "Regressive" talking point is precisely full of hot air.,

If you are using Bill Ga... (Below threshold)
Bill Woessner:

If you are using Bill Gates as an example, he is one of the greatest philanthropists in the world.

I've never understood what that has to do with paying taxes. I claim the deduction for charitable donations because it's the law. But I think it's absolutely ridiculous. Besides, what if Bill Gates weren't such a great philanthropist? Would you then argue that he needs to pay more in taxes?

your "Regressive" talking point is precisely full of hot air.

It's not my talking point, but I'll respond to that, just to continue the Bill Gates test. Assuming a sales tax of 30%, if Bill Gates spends only 2% of his income ($100M), he'll end up paying 0.6% of his income in taxes. Compare that to an average family of four that spends, say, 50% of their income. They would pay 15% of their income in taxes.

A national sales tax is not structurally regressive. However, the rich are the only ones who can afford NOT to spend the vast majority of their income. So I think it's pretty likely that a national sales tax, even with the (p)rebate, would be be extremely regressive in practice.






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