The current tax system is unquestionably in need of an overhaul. However, here in America there are many different opinions on how to do that, and because this is America, everyone has the right to speak and say so. Somewhat unfortunately, this allows certain individuals to ignore history and the evidence and advocate for outdated and wrong tax solutions. Ronald Reagan supported something Obama does as well — higher taxes on the rich. Here’s a video that breaks it down pretty well:
As you can see, the policies that John Boehner is opposing right now are simply the brighter part of Reagan’s economic policies. Why, then, does he oppose them? It’s simple — obstructionism. He’s going to oppose any of Obama’s policies regardless of what they are about, and House Republicans are going to follow his lead no matter what the American people want.
With all this talk about tax reform, something that comes up quite often as a solution is a “flat tax.” A flat tax, first of all, only refers to income tax, which is an important consideration when you put a flat tax into the scheme of the overall tax setup and economy. A flat tax means that everyone pays the same percentage of their income in taxes. On the surface, it seems like a good idea. It isn’t. A quick note — we’re talking about a simple flat tax. There are other concepts formed around the idea of a flat tax that could eliminate some of the cons, but we’re not going to address all of those at this time.
First of all, income tax is one of the only taxes that is progressive as opposed to regressive. Regressive means that the rich pay a lower percent of income than the poor. Progressive means the opposite. Because income tax, right now, is one of the only progressive taxes, changing the income tax laws to reflect a flat tax would cause the tax system to become regressive and benefit the rich overall.
The main problem with our current tax code comes from loopholes that allow the rich — and corporations — to legally evade taxes, paying far less than the intended amount. This arose because the rich have the power to lobby legislature to get laws changed to their favor. Limiting political spending and closing tax loopholes is important.
Let’s not forget that while a convoluted tax code isn’t a good thing, if we changed to a flat tax certain branches of the government — such as the IRS — would become pointless, and those people would lose their jobs. The IRS employs nearly 100,000 people, and other businesses that center around taxes would also be forced to lay off and/or close down. That in itself isn’t enough of a reason not to reform taxes — to say so would be laughable — but it is an important consideration.
The regressiveness of a flat tax system cannot be emphasized enough. Regressive systems hurt the poor and increase income disparity. It would be a continuation of the current system of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer — admittedly, not as bad as it has been the last few years, but any continuation of a system such as that is to be avoided.
We seem to have this idea here in America that the individual is more important than anything else. That is true to a point, but we must remember that humans, as a species, are meant to work together to achieve goals. Countries with a higher tax rate are actually happier as well as having a higher standard of living. While you may think you can make it in the world on your own, “build it” on your own, in effect, the simple truth is that you cannot. When you pay taxes to the government, you are helping your country as a whole. When you look at taxes as a way to benefit your fellow citizens, you realize that richer citizens paying a higher tax just makes sense; they have more to give.
Conservatives that favor a flat tax favor it because it would take a large quantity of revenue away from the federal government (most likely), thus “shrinking” it to the size they feel government should be (the wanted size seems to be somewhere between cutting Social Security and performing invasive procedures on women desiring abortions).
A flat tax hurts the poor, which shrinks the middle class, making less opportunity available for economic climbing. Isn’t that anti-American? History — and common sense — says to tax the rich at a higher rate.