. . . and sent hither a swarm of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
-- the Declaration of Independence
I never thought this would happen to me. I hope it never happens to you. And I'm one of the lucky ones.
I once had it made - nineteen years of service with the local phone company. Great pay and benefits-- then just days before my 49th birthday, our building closed.
The following years brought unemployment, starting again from the bottom, and a major decrease in pay. Credit cards helped pay the bills. Unfortunately, a paperwork error at a subsequent job affected my withholding, so, for the first time in my life I had to pay the IRS-- over $600, while barely earning above the poverty level. To ease the credit card debt, I withdrew a small chunk of my 401K, incurring another huge tax debt-- over $500.
Long story short, a lifetime of savings was nearly wiped out, and a comfortable lifestyle was destroyed.
I harbor some of the blame for my financial woes, but I stress that none of my debt stemmed from steak dinners or Rolex watches. Many lunches have consisted of Ramen noodles or peanut butter and water or nothing. A day off is out of the question; a vacation is a dream; retirement is a joke.
Meanwhile, people who live frivolously and barely work receive refund checks worth thousands of dollars. The income tax system, with all its loopholes, actually rewards some individuals who don't even pay taxes. Granted, no one likes taxes of any kind.
Tax collectors have always held the lowest rungs of popularity. Still, our founders would surely revolt at the power and overreach of the income tax and the IRS. Worth noting, the idea of an income tax had been considered at various times since our founding, but it took the budding progressive movement of the early 20th Century to finally take hold, becoming a Constitutional amendment in 1913. So, while no one likes them, sales taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs are at least fair and impersonal.
The same could be said of a national flat tax. It doesn't target individuals and punish certain behaviors (such as hard work, saving money, investing money, etc.).
Only the income tax can be used as a tool of social engineering, pitting group against group, rewarding sloth at the expense of the law-abiding.
The income tax is riddled with loopholes and deductions, many of which are unknown to the average person. Lawyers and accountants know them, however, and make mega-millions by exploiting our lack of fluency in legalistic mumbo-jumbo. A current radio advertisement touts a book detailing such loopholes ("Number 1 on Amazon!" the announcement blares). It is the income tax alone that breeds behavior that is both legal AND highly unethical.
Remember the revelation that the Clintons, while still in Arkansas, claimed their donation of used underwear as tax deductions? We should have adopted a flat tax years ago just to avoid that mental picture. Furthermore, why is the purchase of a suit for an executive worthy of a deduction but a new pair of shoes for your child is not? Or is it? Who really knows?
Sales taxes and flat taxes do not instill the same fear and dread. No other creditor can legally raid your bank account, leave you penniless, and throw you in jail. Like mobsters demanding protection money, the IRS is a legally sanctioned gang that sustains itself through threats and intimidation, not to mention gross invasions of privacy.
Civil libertarians who moan over Internet providers selling your search histories casually accept federal bureaucrats knowing the earning and spending habits of private citizens. Despite legal safeguards, these details often become public, subjecting taxpayers to ridicule and shame.
It's hard to use a simple sales tax as a weapon against a political enemy. If I could have the president's ear for just five minutes, I would plead with him to make tax reform, and abolishing the income tax, top priorities. The potential of untold wealth to confiscate has fueled the rise of the federal government, the dilution of state autonomy, and the subjugation of the individual. It makes you wonder how America survived and prospered before 1913.
It was the goal of early 20th Century progressives to end the aristocracy in America. They succeeded, for the most part. Whatever their excesses, the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, and Rockefellers contributed far more to American greatness than any IRS chief ever did. What progressives really threaten are family farms, family businesses, traditions, individual hopes and dreams, and the livelihoods of the most humble Americans trying to claw their way out of poverty. Like most progressive scams to abolish wealth and promote equality, the income tax hurts the poor as much, if not more than anyone else. This humble American says thanks for nothing, progressives.