One hundred years and two months ago Congress ratified the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, implementing a tax on personal and business income. The time has come to repeal that amendment, just as was done with the unpopular 18th Amendment.
Apart from being the most invasive mechanism for the federal government to pry into individuals’ privacy, the IRS has, in the past several months, been shown to be tyrannical and politically corrupt. But what to do? First, from a political perspective, and after repeal of the 16th Amendment, the entire Department of the Treasury should be disbanded, all employees fired, and all taxpayer records be destroyed in full view of the public, so there’s no chance of anyone’s private information remaining in the hands of the government. Once government has a taste of absolute power by obtaining, reviewing and retaining people’s most private financial records, that genie will never go back into the bottle. That ill-gotten leverage must be nullified; the government doesn’t get to keep those records in any way, shape or form.
Second, in full acknowledgment that the government needs revenue to operate, a better taxation proposal would be the implementation of a national sales tax on tangible items. This would completely replace the existing income-based tax structure, and would be collected by the states through their existing tax collection systems, not by the federal government. The people pay tax to their state, and the state pays tax to the feds. Doing so would equalize taxation and would prevent the federal government from indulging in the unavoidable urge to again become tyrannical and corrupt. We learn from our experiences — and our mistakes. There would be no tax levied on food, medicine, most health care, philanthropic tithing or the like.
But think about it. What tax structure could be more fair and progressive than a national sales tax collected by and through the states? For individuals, the more one spends, the more tax one pays. Conversely, those of little means don’t tend to spend much on tangibles, and would be essentially exempt from this tax. Companies would pay a type of value added tax that may enhance or replace certain states’ current VAT levies.
There have been several studies that, depending on the plan’s details, show that a national sales tax would generate more revenue for the federal government than does the current income based approach. And it is certainly far less intrusive. Further, by using already existing collection systems managed by the states, the cost of collection of each tax dollar would be far lower than what’s being spent now by the IRS.
There is no more universally hated bureaucracy than the IRS, a sentiment well deserved. It’s long past time to kill this monster, and replace it with something that’s better, more charitable, controllable, and more cost effective.
A. Linn Wyllie