shusu: The following is the rough draft basis for the article I plan to write in response to your wish list. I have no documentation for anything, yet.
I saw on the news today that someone is proposing the institution of a 23% flat tax on all retail goods, to replace the current income tax system.
I believe that 23% is too high, but I do think that a flat tax on retail goods, instead of an income tax, is a good idea and one that should be adopted, for several reasons.
- It would reduce the need for the Internal Revenue Service, thus diminishing at least one area of government bureaucracy and saving the government a lot of money.
- Everyone is taxed at the same (hopefully reasonable) rate. No one can claim that any one group of people is being over or under-taxed.
- Each citizen controls the extent to which he is taxed. If you buy less, you get taxed less, even if the tax rate is the same for everyone.
There was a guy on the news, objecting to all this. He said, "If a man making $50,000/yr. spends $40,000/yr, and a man who makes $500,000/yr. also spends $40,000 in a year, the rich man gets a better break, and this isn't fair."
My question is, why isn't it fair? If a rich man is thrifty enough to clothe, feed, and house himself and his family on $40,000/yr., just like the middle-class man, I think that's a marvelous thing! Why should I care how much the rich guy makes? If we both buy the exact same things, we both pay the exact same tax on those items. If he has more money left over in his savings account than I do at the end of the year, what business is that of mine?
True, the rich man would be better able to invest his unspent money than the middle-class man would, and as investments aren't considered retail items, they would not be taxed, under the retail flat tax system, so the wealthy man would probably remain wealthy. Personally, I would have no problem with taxing stock shares at the same rate as retail items; they're purchases, just like the retail items are. Even in our current system, investment income is taxed at about 5% less than regular income is. On the other hand, part of the philosophy behind a flat tax is to encourage people to save and to invest in business. If your interest income isn't taxed at all, I can imagine that that would spur a lot of interest in the stock market, even among people who can afford to invest only a little. I would sure participate a lot more, and I am making only minimum wage, right now.
If the idea of the wealthy man being wealthy still irks me, then I can bloody well get myself an education, so I can be a wealthy man, too. $500,000/yr. jobs don't just grow on trees; you have to earn them and choose your job market carefully. Even if you know someone who knows someone who got you the job, they're still not going to hire a fool, in most cases. Or, if they do hire a fool, that fool won't last long.
I realize that there are objections to this. For example, if I'm a single mother raising three children, and all I have is a minimum-wage job (or two), getting an education is not going to be extremely possible for me, without help--and such help might not be forthcoming. I might be earning too much for a government agency to be able to help me, and I might have relatives who I either don't trust the children's care to or who won't help me. Maybe all three children were born out of wedlock, and my family has disowned me. Or maybe I have a prison record. In such a case, getting an education and bettering myself becomes just about impossible.
For this reason, I hope that any flat tax plan would have some kind of provision for people who are on the borders of poverty. In our current income tax system, people who don't have jobs and who aren't receiving interest income are not taxed. There would have to be some way to allow people in financial straits to be released from their tax burden.
Anyway, this seems like a very interesting idea, and I will look forward to seeing what, if anything, happens with it. Certainly, I am all for anything that vastly simplifies our current income tax code.
TV Whoredom: Crossing Jordan, Dog: The Bounty Hunter, and House MD are all on, tonight. I am now unable to watch Cold Case Files, because it airs at the same time as House. But I am a medical geek as well as a forensics geek, so I'm happy, either way.