During this election cycle we are hearing candidates spout different plans for reforming our tax code/system. Since revenue is the other side of the coin (spending being the other) that most directly impacts our deficit and increasing debt, it is an major piece of the puzzle that requires addressing. The issue raised by leftists is we need more “revenue” (i.e., taxes), but history has shown that rarely, if ever, does an increase in “revenue” result in a decrease in deficit spending, but rather spurs on even more spending on more unconstitutional programs and agencies.
Could the country use more revenue? Yes, if that additional amount is used solely to pay down our debt. To this end I would submit that once our tax system is replaced, not “reformed”, that excess revenues be required by law be applied to debt reduction. So what tax system would be best?
This cannot be fully answered in a short essay, as I’ve written in years past many pages on analyzing the various options being bandied about. I would submit that the best choice is to replace all income-related taxes with a consumption tax. There has been a bill in the House of Representatives (and a companion one in the Senate) since the early 1990s’ that leadership will not allow to come to the floor for a debate and vote that would do away with these taxes, the IRS, and call for a repeal of the 16th amendment. This bill is most commonly known as “The Fair Tax Act”.
I cannot get into the details of how this system would work, but I will list the main points:
- Studies have shown that it would be cost neutral in terms of product and service prices once the transition to it has been fully accomplished as everything we purchase has built into them a 23% cost directly tied to income-related taxes. When those taxes are eliminated, market forces will cause the prices for everything to fall by at least that amount.
- It gives everyone an immediate 7.65% pay increase as Social Security and Medicare taxes are no longer deducted from workers’ pay checks (a special benefit to lower wage earners).
- It will actually increase revenue in that those who currently pay no taxes on income due to the so-called “underground economy” and illegal activities would now pay taxes when they make purchases.
- The wealthy will pay more in taxes as they buy more high-priced items, and we all know that the higher the cost, the greater the sales tax.
- We each will control the amount of tax we pay by managing our purchases instead of the government extracting what it determines we should pay and when it must be paid from our earnings.
In 1997 a Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation issued a report compiled by a number of leading economists who had conducted a modeling analysis of our current income tax system with some modifications that were being proposed at the time along with models of changing the system completely to a consumption tax. On page 19 of their report it states
“From the medium to long-run perspective, the consumption tax produced a stronger positive growth effect than the unified income tax….” Then on page 34 it goes on to state that “…tax restructuring in the form of a consumption tax will ultimately produce higher economic growth….”
The benefits that aided in producing these results were spelled out to be the following:
“…reducing the cost of capital through less taxation of capital provides an incentive for additional investment; reducing the marginal tax rate on labor provides an incentive for increased labor effort; increasing the returns to labor through capital deepening can provide an incentive for more labor; and,…reducing distortions in investment decisions by eliminating differential taxation of different types of capital promotes a more efficient allocation of resources.”
In short, moving to the Fair Tax, according to this report, would be the stabilizing boost our economy so desperately needs:
“The broad consensus of all the modeling approaches, that moving from the present-law income tax base to a uniform consumption tax base will result in a long-run increase in GDP, capital investment, and labor effort,”
In closing, I will answer the matter I mentioned in Part V of this series, namely what to do with the employees of the IRS when that agency is reduced. In order to increase enforcement of our immigration laws and auditing of businesses to ensure their compliance in not hiring illegal aliens, many of these individuals could be moved over to the Immigration and Naturalization agency, thus solving a manpower requirement there without having to increase the number of government employees.
-October 16, 2015