If we worked up the gumption

Sure would be good for the country if we worked up the gumption to radically change our income tax system. By “gumption” I mean backbone. By “we” I mean you and me and our politicians and our vested interests.

Our system is horrible. We all know it is far too complicated. Fewer and fewer of us dare to file a tax return without help from a tax preparer. That should never be. No country should create a system that forces taxpayers to hire help like this. It is an abuse of our citizens, pure and simple.

We could simplify the whole system. We could adopt some sort of flat tax. Make this much and you pay this much tax. Make this much and you pay this much extra. Fill out your return on a post card.

One reason we don’t do this is the special interests among us. They are everywhere. And you are probably one of them as well. You like being able to deduct for the interest you pay on your mortgage? If we had a flat tax you probably would lose that.

As you know, there are a bunch of deductions. Every one has a lobby that wants to keep it intact. With a genuine flat tax most everybody would lose every deduction.

Then there are the folks who collect credits of all sorts. That is a code word for handouts. Nobody would want to see their handouts end. Like the guys who love deductions they would fight the idea of a flat tax. Which is a pity.

More is the pity that so few of our citizens end up paying an income tax any more. Nearly half of us pay no income tax. That is an insult to the other half. You live in a society, you should pay tax to keep its wheels greased. Even if it is a tiny tax because you have really low income. Everybody should pay something. We are all in this together.

Now, you have read many times that it is our very highest earners who pay the lion’s share of the taxes that Washington collects. The liberals don’t care. They want to raise tax rates higher and higher on them. That is another pity. Because we know how much all of them earn. If we put all those top earners incomes together, we know how much it comes to. And if we confiscated it all, we would come nowhere near raising the money we need. 

So we ought to scrap that idea, or the idea of whacking them with higher and higher rates. Lots of countries have done this. We have too. Find me an instance where it worked and you win a gold star. It is a rotten idea, this taxing the bejeepers out of the rich and super rich. For no other reason that it does not work and never has. That ought to be the best reason.

Besides, we have come to depend too much on our big earners. We truly have. We soak them pretty good right now. When we hit a downturn, their incomes drop dramatically. And we, as a nation suffer. Because we depend too much on taxing those fat incomes.

I am all for tax reform. Simplify the tax code. Kill the deductions. Kill the tax credits. Levy a flat tax. Make sure everybody pays something, no matter how small. When we treat people like freeloaders they begin to think like freeloaders. And that is not good for this country. We can do better by them, and by this country.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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