Twenty years ago, the complexity of doing your taxes was a real concern. Today?
You buy a computer program, enter the data from your forms, and you're
done. Even my fairly complicated return took just over an hour; simple
short-form filing can usually be done in 30 minutes. People don't
procrastinate because it is hard - they procrastinate because there is no point
in paying the government the money you owe any earlier than necessary.Reforming the tax code will take a long, long time, because there are two
related concepts: how complex the wording is, and who pays how much. Both
parties agree that the code should be simpler - but they are far, far apart on
who should pay, and how much they should pay. When you say things like
"reduce the corporate tax rate" that sounds great - until you realize
that it's another way of saying "individuals should pay higher
Simplifying the tax code would certainly have overwhelming support. And, on the
surface it seems extremely easy to do. But the devil is in the details.What makes the tax code complicated is the deductions. My deductions
are sound and make great sense. Yours? not so much.So, Lets
simplify, but keep my mortgage deduction, my personal exemptions for my kids, my
charitable deduction, and so on.We should have a sliding scale. You
make X dollars, you pay X% of that. PeriodCorporate rates? Same
thing. Yes, they may be 35%, but corporations are paying NOWHERE near that.
I had to laugh at the cap on charitable deductions of 50% of your
gross income? How about 5%?
As the tax code was written by and for corporate America, maybe there should be
an editorial on the overwhelming mess the rich and powerful have created for the
rest of us.
Write yourself a letter today to be opened on Election Day. We get what we vote
If I could design the tax structure, it would be a flat tax, escalating with the
persons income; Say 5% on the first $50K, 10% on the next $200K and so on. I
would do away with all deductions.There would be no reason for refunds in
such a system, solving the problem of false claims that the govt. pays out
billions and can't control. There would be no need for so many IRS
personnel, no need for people to do your taxes because the system is too
complex. I would do away with corporate/business taxes. very few of the big
corporations pay any taxes today so that would not impact much. I would do away
with all subsidies.But such a system would not gain favor. The
popularity of the politician from the rich comes in his/her ability to grant
favors through the tax code. Where would the politician get campaign
contributions if they did not have the tax code carrot to dangle before the
Simplicity could start with having identical tax rates for those who work for
their money and those who buy and sell assets for their money.
Eliminate the corporate income tax entirely, but tax dividends and capital gains
at the same rate as ordinary income. That way the owners of the corporations pay
the taxes and the corporations can't game the system by spreading income
out around the world to arbitrage tax rates.Anyone interested in tax
reform should read the excellent book "The Benefit and the Burden" by
Bruce Bartlett. It lays out pros and cons of many different proposals as well as
telling us why they would all be difficult politically.
The wise people who wrote our Constitution, and those wise States that ratified
our Constitution, wrote the perfect tax revenue code: Article 1,
Section 2, Clause 1: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect
Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common
Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and
Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"Article
1, Section 2, Clause 3: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be
apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union,
according to their respective Numbers,"Article 1, Section 9,
Clause 4: "No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in
Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be
taken."The 16th Amendment changed all of that: "The Congress
shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source
derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to
any census or enumeration."The 16th Amendment led to the total
tax mess that we have today.
This editorial shows that "tax simplification" - which sounds appealing
- is most often just a euphemism for tax cuts.
Yup, Mike, let's just do away with all the amendments we don't like.
They are obviously not part of the "inspired" Constitution that was
written by those sage 18th-century aristocrats who were so smart they built into
the document provisions to deal with 21st-century dilemmas like modern
health-care, automatic weapons, massive corporations, derivatives, and gay
marriage.Seriously, the Constitution is in dire need of a
comprehensive rewrite to make it more relevant to our modern society.
Article 1, Section 8 permits Congress to tax us to perform 17 duties, duties
which have been enumerated clearly. We, the people, have only authorized
Congress to perform those 17 duties. All other duties are to left to the States
or to the people. The most expensive item on that list of enumerated duties is
military/defense. Rounding up, military/defense costs about $700 billion per
year. The Federal budget is about $3.5 trillion, or 5X greater than the largest
authorized duty that has been authorized.The problem is uncontrolled
spending on Congress's self-assigned "duties". No tax
"reformation" will work until Congress is reined in. The duty to rein
in Congress lies with the People. We have the obligation to see that Congress
only does what is allowed. When WE do our duty, Congress will constrain itself
to the duties that we have assigned it through the contract that we have with
government, which is the Constitution.The mess started with the
people. Our great-grandparents changed the Constitution to authorize Congress
to tax income. How will our greed affect our great-grandchildren?
Mike,Your little overview of history completely omits all of the
issues the US struggled with while trying to implement taxes for over a century.
You seem to believe the Amendment came out of nowhere, but the mere fact that
over 2/3 of the states found it necessary would contradict your assertion.
Taxes are a mess. Absolutely necessary, but a mess. Many countries actually
envy our mess greatly. For example, Greece would love our mess, as they have no
real way to ensure collection of taxes. We had a different mess before the
Amendment, but that in no way means it was superior.Here's the
thing, everyone wants everything to be boiled down to the lay man's
understanding. We don't want to listen to a whole speech, we want cable
news to give us a couple soundbites. We can't understand the whole tax
code, so we want it simplified. Problem is, our society isn't simple. Our
economy relies on us encouraging certain behaviors. The complexity of our tax
code is a reflection of our complex society. It's far from perfect, but I
don't want it to become the equivalent to a soundbite.
Mike, A good start in fixing this problem would be to call out either side when
they do it.Typically, with such rampant partisanship, people only
see the "other sides" transgression while giving their side a pass.Your daily rants on this board are aimed only at the democrats, as if
they are the sole cause of the problem. You may want to take a
closer look at the overspending in this country and who has been the culprit.I am quite certain that with an honest look, you will find that your
beloved GOP is equally responsible for the hole that we are in.Now,
whether you admit it or not... well, I think we all know that outcome.
@JimInSLC"If I could design the tax structure, it would be a flat tax,
escalating with the persons income; Say 5% on the first $50K, 10% on the next
$200K and so on. I would do away with all deductions."Wouldn't that just be a progressive income tax? (Not that I'm
complaining, I just don't think that's what a flat tax is).
Simple tax code:How much did you make?Send it in.With the growth of entitlements, that is where we are headed. I
don't think it will be popular.
Some people use the excuse that the speed limit is unfair when they plead their
case before the judge. Others tell the judge that everyone speeds and that the
only reason that a ticket was issued is because the patrol officer didn't
like blue cars. In all cases the judge bangs his gavel and administers the law
as it is written, not as the people thought it should be written.A
complex society does not need a complex Constitution. A complex society works
best with a simple Constitution. What's so hard about Congress telling the
people that they need to talk to their governors? Companies know that they must
divide duties and that passing out paper clips is not the CEO's
responsibility, yet people want Congress to hand us tissues for OUR sniffles.The Constitution does not favor political parties. Those who divert
attention from a problem by saying "your party did it first" need to
ponder why they, themselves, can't address the problem.The tax
code needs to be simplified. Congress needs to be reined in. We citizens need
to stop demanding tissues from Congress.
We also have politicians that think it's a career rather than a service.
Taxes are complicated because of industry lobbyists whose job it is to minimize
the taxes their employers pay by any means necessary. If we were to sent them
all home and ban their return in the name of "simplifying taxes", Mike
R. would object that we had violated "freedom of speech", that
corporations are people, blah, blah. What I don't know is - which would he
prefer now - simplify taxes by ending corporate lobbying or the messy but
Constitutional method we have today?
Eliminate the non-profit status of churches. Treat them as any business and gain
an estimated $80 Billion in revenue at federal, state and local levels.
For some reason, I can't imagine why, whenever today's Republicans put
together "tax simplification," it typically involves shifting more and
more of the total tax burden to people on the lower end of the income spectrum,
removing it from the high end, and starving the government of funds needed to do
any good for the country. When you eliminate those 3.7 million
words, what do you think will happen to your dependent deductions, your higher
education deduction, moving deductions, provisions for tax-free retirement
accounts, health account deductions, refundable credits? Gone, most likely. If
you make less than $100,000 year, chances are you'll be paying more taxes,
not less.Meanwhile, the new "simpler" code will probably
make it even easier for the rich to avoid taxation. Or lower their effective
rate. Like it always does.If you honestly want a simpler, fairer (to
everyone, not just the rich) system, why don't we just return to the 1950s
tax code of Eisenhower? The top rate was over 90% and the only significant tax
break for business was depreciation allowance for investment in production
capacity. In this country.
Kent DeForrestOff the subject, but you said that the Constitution is
in need of a rewrite to make it more relevent to our modern society. And 7
folks agreed. Have any of you imagined the political debate that would ensue if
such an attempt were made? It would be the argument of the century (21st).
Many, these days from what I hear, would probably say throw out the Bill of
Rights completely. Tax reform would be a walk in the park in difficulty
compared to a national debate about a new Constitution. That would be
impossible to ever do. Just be glad that a few founding fathers could pull it
off way back then. Otherwise we might not even have what we do as a foundation
of our law.
Yes Mike Richards the 16th Amendment created a mess. But it IS actually part of
the CONSTITUTION. Perhaps the amendment should be repealed. You seem to argue
Stormwalker:So you want to tax churches??? So if I give $100 to my
church to help its welfare program, you think that should be "income"
for the church and taxed???Churches that own profitable businesses
already pay taxes on any profit they generate. It is just the donations from
church members used to build houses of worship and provide for the poor that is
currently not subject to taxes.