Monday, April 4, 2011

Taxes and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I just finished working up my taxes for this year. Every year, I dread reporting my taxes. I want to start my own tea party revolution about taxes, and in the meantime, soothe my churning bowels.

I don't mind paying taxes. In fact, paying taxes is a civic duty, and much good comes from all of us voluntarily paying and reporting our taxes. What gets my goat, though, is the weighty burden that figuring out and reporting taxes entails. Uncle Sam depends on us voluntarily reporting and paying our taxes, but the tax code is so difficult for the average taxpayer, and the forms are so arcane, and the language is so steeped with accounting and legal language that citizens are almost forced to use professional help for fear of mis-reporting their taxes. I deeply resent having to pay a professional to figure out how much I have to pay the government.

The tax code is long overdue for an overhaul. I think such an overhaul should follow a few simple principles:

  • I favor a graduated income tax. I'll let the Congress debate how graduated.
  • The tax code should eliminate all deductions and credits. Deductions and credits are government subsidies, just as much as if the Treasury Department cuts a check. If industries, markets, organizations, or special interest groups need subsidies from the government, let those payments be via appropriations. This might be an effective way to keep discretionary government spending in check!
  • The effort to report my taxes should be painless. The 1040 should basically ask me who I am, how much I earned, how much income tax was withheld, and then with a simple table, tell me how much I tax I owe (or how big a refund I get). I shouldn't need a degree in tax accounting to figure out my taxes.
  • Elminiate the corporate income tax. Let the fat and not-so-fat cats receive more dividend income. Tax 'em. Tax their capital gains.

I'm sure the Republicans will want this proposal to be revenue neutral. Okay. I'm sure the Democrats will want the burden to be equitable. Okay. I just want it to be simple. And I'd like that in time for my 2011 taxes. Meanwhile, my bowels are acting up. Gotta run.