By Ron VandenBoom
Have you ever heard people complain the tax codes are too complicated, have too many loopholes, or are just too high?
How often have you heard someone say, I dont mind paying taxes, Im just tired of the middle class getting soaked while the rich pay no taxes at all?
Well, Im sure these are not uncommon complaints and we all can claim to be experts on the unfair nature of the current tax system. But I for one have to ask the question, what would you be willing to do to change it?
Is all the complaining just hyperbole or is there a real determination in the country to see something better?
On July 14, 1999, Rep. John Linder (R.-Ga) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D.-Minn.) proposed legislation H.R. 2525 that would throw the old tax code out the window and replace it with what they call the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax would eliminate all federal income taxes, including capital gains taxes, self-employment taxes, payroll taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, estate and gift taxes.
These taxes would be replaced by a flat 23 percent federal sales tax.
Sound scary? Well, according to the bills authors, the Fair Tax would lower the price you pay for most things from 20 to 30 percent simply because manufactures would no longer have to pay taxes on their profits. Nor would they have to employ people to do the deducting and bookkeeping chores for their employees.
The new structure would also eliminate all hidden taxes on items industries use to manufacture the goods they produce. This could mean an additional 20 to 30 percent savings.
The savings alone would more than make up for the 23 percent consumers would pay in a sales tax.
Since its introduction, I have seen only one TV show that featured or even mentioned the proposed legislation. In fact, had it not been for that show, I, too, would be in the dark over this legislation.
Included in the bill is a provision that would rebate equal to the sales tax paid on essential goods and services to ensure that no American pays tax on essentials and that the truly poor pay nothing.
The American worker would also take home his or her complete paycheck with no federal deductions. It would mean a 20 to 40 percent increase in pay for most Americans.
It would also eliminate tax evasion, most of the IRS, and that terrible April 15 deadline.
I could go on and on about the claimed advantages the Fair Tax is supposed to have over the current tax system, but that really isnt what concerns me most.
What concerns me is that there has so far been so little discussion and debate concerning this legislation that only a few people know it exists.
In my view, this radical new approach to taxing needs desperately to be debated in the court of public opinion as well as on the floor of the House of Representatives. Only a very few pieces of legislation have the potential to affect America as much as this, and to have the media, the Congress, and the people so silent worries me.
Not that I fear some radical new change will overtake me in my sleep. Quite the opposite. My fear is that sleep will overtake the legislation. I fear so little will be known about the bill that it will slip quietly into oblivion without the kind of attention it deserves.
At this point in time, I cant say that I am a supporter of the bill. Although there are many aspects that I like, I want more information and clarification on things like its impact on charitable giving, non-profit organizations.
While I favor a complete overhaul of the current system, I still reserve judgment on this plan.
But how does America feel? Are we galvanized enough in our objections to the current system to be willing to shake things up, or has complacency overtaken us?
Check out the Fair Tax Web site at www.fairtax.org to learn more about the bill. Ask your congressman his opinion. Lets find out more.