Regulation

Lower and Simplify Taxes!

It's time to reform the system.

|

It's that joyous time of year: income tax time. So I spend time with my accountant. I don't want to see him, but I must. I could not do what he's doing. The tax code has grown so complex that today most Americans hire someone to do their taxes.

For the money I pay my accountant, I could get a hundred massages. I could buy a fancy motorcycle. I could take a cruise ship to Venice and back.

Better yet, I could do some good in the world. I could pay for two Habitat for Humanity homes or help three kids escape government schools by paying their tuition at a good Catholic school.

What a shame that I pay my accountant instead.

How'd we get to this point? U.S taxes were once simple! The government funded itself on tariffs and excise taxes. It didn't violate our privacy by asking us how much we made or how many dependents we have.

But in 1913, the politicians decided they needed an income tax.

At first, they took little money: just 1 percent on incomes between $20,000 and $50,000. Those were big incomes—adjusted for inflation, $50,000 is $1.1 million today. The top bracket paid 6 percent, but that only applied to people who earned at least $11 million in today's dollars. Anyone who made less than $400,000 paid no income tax.

But leave the amounts aside. The increase in complexity is just as evil.

In 1913, the first tax form and instructions totaled four simple pages. Today's 1040, with instructions, totals 176 pages. How did this happen? Because politicians win votes by giving gifts to favored groups.

On my FBN show tonight, I'll show clips of the pandering legislators applauding themselves for offering tax credits to special interests. The favored groups cheer their tax breaks, but the result is that everyone else pays more, and everyone must spend more time deciphering the rules.

And with every credit, the tax code gets more complicated. The code is now 3,784,745 words long, not counting the 2009 and 2010 changes. It will get worse in the future.

Americans spend more than 7 billion hours trying to comply, according to a forthcoming study from the National Taxpayer Union (NTU).

 "That is the equivalent of 3.7 million employees working 40-hour weeks year-round without any vacation. That's more workers than are employed at the five biggest employers among Fortune 500 companies," writes David Keating in the NTU study.

"Counting time and money for individual taxpayers, the compliance burden would total an incredible $103 billion for individual taxpayers alone."

That doesn't include the time spent doing state and local forms, or more important: the burden of "tax minimization strategies" on the economy.

And we haven't even mentioned the corporate income tax. But don't worry. The IRS stands ready to assist the bewildered. "If a taxpayer needs help beyond the basic form," Keating writes, "the IRS now lists 1,909 publications, forms, and instructions for download (some are duplicates in different languages) from its Web site—up from the 1,770 NTU logged last year." Thanks a lot, IRS.

This is insane. How dare a government that supposedly serves the people impose on us this way? Politicians who pass these tax laws aren't our representatives. They're our rulers! They increase the tax burden and its complexity, and then demand we pay them homage to get exemptions for little pieces of our lives.

What are we to do? Some people say scrap the income tax for the Fair Tax, a national sales tax. Others want a flat income tax of, maybe, 17 percent. One form; no deductions.

There's always danger in proposing a replacement for the income tax: We could end up with two taxes. I wouldn't put it past our greedy Congress to promise that a national sales tax—or worse, a value-added tax—would replace the income tax then, once the new taxes are in place, to say that the need for revenue is so great that they must retain the income tax, too.

Let's not take our eye off the ball: lower and much simpler taxes.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town: Radley Balko on Disbanding SWAT Teams for the Washington Times

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Here’s an even better idea:

    Let’s scrap the income tax altogether and the IRS with it.

    1. I like your idea better.

    2. I agree. Our system isn’t anywhere near progressive enough. Take a look at this nifty little graph. It shows that the top 20% do indeed subsidize the bottom 60%…but only barely.

      http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/04/tax-day-who-really-pays

      No quintile’s proportion of total taxes paid varies more than a few percent from their fraction of the nation’s income.

      1. You, and your fucking, soul-sucking progrssivism horseshit can be crammed up your own ass, Chad.

        Yes, I mean cram your entire body into your own ass.

        1. My ass has finally decided to eat my hand! It hungers for more!

          1. Brain Slave, report to Brainquarters. Brain Slave, kindly report to Brainquarters. Brain Slave!

            1. I never would have expected an aqua teen reference in the comments section of a Reason magazine article! AWESOME!

        2. Incapable of making an intelligent reply, LG?

          Typical. When confronted with data, libertarians squeal and run like stuck pigs.

          1. If you and your progresive thoughts warented any more that what you got yes people would make an intellegent reply.
            Maybe when you grow up and get a job and some personal responsibilty you will dtop hidding under the progresive blanket that smothers your mind.

            1. Again, I see foam at the mouth, but no coherent response.

              Please try again.

          2. I gave an intelligent reply, Chad. Then I went to bed because, y’know, I have a job. I work for one of those small companies you think don’t exist.

            1. Mother Jones = data?

        3. LG,

          Thanks for making me crack up in a room full of people studying for an econ final.. HAHA.. Couldn’t have been said better!

      2. No quintile’s proportion of total taxes paid varies more than a few percent from their fraction of the nation’s income.

        So you came here to point out that the bottom 40% of the population pays about 10% of all taxes while the top 1% pays 22% of all taxes? That sounds pretty progressive to me; per-capita the wealthy are paying almost 100 times more than the poor in taxes. Yet your desire to offer up that which is not yours is not sated? Are those 1% getting more for their tax dollars? Given that the wealthy have smaller families and receive far fewer welfare benefits I am thinking they get less.

      3. Chad, so what do you think is a fair amount for a small business owner to pay on income over 200k?

        Right now its about 46% state & fed combined.

        Keep in mind the ability to expand is funded through retained after tax income, so leaving less ATI means less expansion, fewer new hires etc.

        1. hey Chad, you know what would get the rich to pay their fair share? SIMPLIFYING THE TAX CODE. The rich can afford to hire good accountants who use the extremely complex tax code to lower their taxes.

          Just a few basic examples can show how the complexity of the tax code favors the rich. You can write off the interest you pay on the mortgage to your house. AND you can do this for a second house, AND that second house can be a boat.

          NOW DO YOU SEE WHY LIBERTARIANS/CONSERVATIVES KEEP SAYING WE SHOULD SIMPLIFY TH TAX CODE?

        2. That is false, as much of the corporate tax is passed on to workers and customers.

          Don’t you guys argue this all the time? Type “who really pays the corporate tax” into google and find out!

  2. You want simple? Just send the government all your money and it will send you back what it thinks you should have….if anything.

    1. We’re working on it.

  3. Central to this issue is simpler taxes. Making them cheaper is another issue entirely. John shouldn’t muddle the mixture by throwing the idea of reducing the size of the government in any areas beside those associated with the income tax.

  4. Two thoughts on this one:

    1) Mr. Stossel doesn’t have to pay an accountant to do his taxes – the reason he does so is to make sure he pays as little as legally possible.

    2) Taxes are still pretty simple for the vast majority of taxpayers, generally you can buy TurboTax for $50 and spend maybe 2-3 hours going through the guided program if you’re organized. The tax code only gets complicated for people who make a lot of money, like Mr. Stossel.

    1. More wealth envy from the left.

      He tries to pay “as little as legally possible.” Well, DUH. Who doesn’t? You spend those several hours with Turbo Tax to make sure you didn’t miss any deductions or credits, right? Where is there a legal or even moral obligation to pay any more in tax than the law requires? Answer: there isn’t one.

      The tax code is complicated for everyone. Your bias against anyone with more money than you once again shines brightly through. It doesn’t take a whole lot of income or a whole lot of complicated business transactions to quickly start getting into various provisions of the tax code that are quite complicated.

      Those that often are most affected are small and mid-sized businesses.

      You really need to try harder at your trolling, because so far, your efforts suck.

      1. Yep, and I can attest to the non-correlation between small business ownership and income. And tax issues are a pain.

      2. I don’t begrude Stossel for not wanting to pay more taxes than he is legally obligated to.

        My beef is that he’s just another spoiled American who enjoys a system that enables him to make more money than 99% of the people on the planet yet will still whine like a child that he can’t have more.

        1. It’s not the system that allows people like Stossel to exist, it’s people like Stossel that allow the system to exist through their funding.

          1. Yeah, because Stossel doesn’t use the public airwaves, internet, roads, etc in the course of performing his job

            1. The public doesn’t own the airwaves, they just use them; mostly, private companies do. The public doesn’t own the internet, it’s mostly privately held now. Roads, sure. But he pays for that mostly through gasoline taxes, etc, just like I do.

              1. Er… well, private companies technically don’t own the airwaves either — no one does. But as for actual networks, etc…

            2. A. Stossel is on Fox Business Channel, a cable outlet, and therefore not using the public airwaves.

              B. The Internet is not government-owned.

              C. I’m sure he uses the roads, but that doesn’t mean the Central State can tell him where he must go.

              I’ve resisted the anarchist pull of some libertarian theory because I consider it unworkable. But I’m beginning to reconsider my stance based on your insane posts, Scotch, given that you seem to believe that, when one dares to use the public services one pays for, one is subject to micromanagement of one’s life by the State.

              1. +2

            3. Yeah, because Stossel doesn’t use the public airwaves, internet, roads, etc in the course of performing his job

              I hope for your sake that you never have to take a shit. Because if you think I am just going to let you use the public sewer system that I FUCKING PAID FOR you are soundly mistaken.

              1. ^ Man, you people are making me laugh so much today.

            4. Fuck publicly subsidized roads and all subsidized transportation.

              1. I agree, public transportation is for losers. Drive a car, take a taxi, or a ride a bike.

        2. I don’t begrude Stossel for not wanting to pay more taxes than he is legally obligated to.

          My beef is that he’s just another spoiled American who enjoys a system that enables him to make more money than 99% of the people on the planet yet will still whine like a child that he can’t have more.

          Who made you Imperial Judge of the Humans you shit-scented douche?

      3. The government takes your money via withholding or estimated tax payments, then requires you to prove it’s your money before you can get it back (refunded). If you don’t have the resources to know how to get it back (or even if you can), you’re screwed.

      4. WFT, I do not attempt to pay “as little as possible”. I very conciously do not claim the charitable deduction, which last year would have saved me nearly $1000.

        1. And that money was well-spent, Chad.

          That was sarcasm, by the way.

        2. Moron.

        3. You should pay as little as legally possible, Chad — I’m sure you can put the money to much better use through targeted acts of charity than the government can. Bill and Melissa Gates doesn’t just turn all the Gates Foundation money over to Obama for a reason.

          1. Liberals hate private charities, deep down, because they can’t control where the money goes.

          2. You are wrong. I get three things in return for my annual charitable donation to the goverment:

            1: A smaller debt and/or more of the stuff government buys. I like this stuff.

            2: The time and energy I save not trying to track and claim all my donations.

            3: The ability to be morally superior to jackholes like you guys.

            The latter is the best reason. For serious.

            1. The ability to be morally superior to jackholes like you guys.

              Oh? Just what standard of morality are you going by here?

            2. You probably enjoy a plethora of things that private companies and capitalist innovators have made possible, you blood suckin’ nazi.

      5. He tries to pay “as little as legally possible.” Well, DUH. Who doesn’t?

        Not Scotch Hamilton he want to pay as much as possible.

        Well everone else anyway, himself not so much.

    2. To hear some tell it, many adults can’t understand how to put on a condom. How successful will they be with Turbotax? I’ve been doing taxes for forty years and pulling my hair out over the changes that get more an more complicated – don’t get an extra deduction any longer for being over 65, qualified and non-qualified dividends, deductions for foreign taxes, passive income, differences between what’s taxable for federal purposes and state purposes, short and long term gains in a mutual fund you’ve held for ten years, etc. etc.

      1. The people who can’t figure out turbotax are generally part of the 47% who don’t pay taxes.

        1. +3

        2. And the occasional Secretary of the Treasury….

      2. The worst is the State of Minnesota.

        They don’t want your w-2’s and 1099’s. Instead, they ask you to record that information on a separate form they’ve created. And if you owe them money, you send your tax forms to the department of revenue in the envelope they provide, but the payment must be sent to a different address in an envelope that they DO NOT provide.

        How fucked up is that?

        1. Move somewhere warmer, my child.

        2. No more so than having to put pay for postage to mail your income tax forms.

    3. I can use Turbo Tax, so can you!!

    4. 1) Of course. And that is because the code is so complex we have created incentives for people to try to avoid paying. Assuming we must even have any taxes (a big assumption, that), a simple flat tax removes many of those incentives. There will be people who will attempt to get out of paying their flat tax, but that would be outright avoidance, not sketchy loophole dodging. The former is certainly easier to police than the latter.

      The other problem is that the tax code has created a niche for the proliferation of these parasitic accountants. I suppose that supports the economy in some sort of indirect way (sheltering capital from unproductive government uses), but that can be achieved more easily with a lower and flatter tax.

      2) Yes, taxes are so simple that all the average tax payer has to do is pay $50 to use a high powered computer program. It shouldn’t cost anything for you to hand your money over to the government. Nor should it be so complicated that we have to hand that task over to computer software. Nor should it even take 2-3 hours of your time.

      Hell, you don’t even need a flat tax rate. Just have a lump sum tax–everyone pays $1,000/yr to live in the US and use all the services associated with that. With about 143 million employed people, that works out to about 1.4 trillion in revenue, or about the size our budget until Bush and Obama got a hold of it. Cut until you can live within that budget and problem solved. People who can’t afford the $1000/yr are free to exit north or south and take advantage of their luxurious social services.

      1. You’re off by an order of magnitude. 143×10^6 x 10^3 = 143×10^9, i.e. 143 Billion. You’d need $10,000 per person, at which point, it would suck to be poor in America.

        This should not be construed as any kind of support for progressive taxation though. I personally think that a non-flat tax rate violates the 14th amendment.

        1. It amazes me that any half-way intelligent person could write a post claiming that we would only need $1000/person to cover anything approximating our budget. It is self-evidently wrong.

          It only goes to show you how utterly clueless most people are about the magnitude of our economy and our budget.

          1. Said economy and budget being far, far bigger than they need to be. But you gloss right over that logic, Chad.

      2. “Parasitic accountants”
        WTF man!?

        They do work for which they are paid. And no-one is forced to use their services. How is that Parasitic? Lots of people have to pay taxes just like they have to drive to work. Are you going to start talking “Parastitic Mechanics” or “Parasitic Roadworkers”

        1. Parasitic mechanics- probably love the more complicated automobile technology mandates.

          Parasitic road workers- public employee entitlements, or public-private contractor welfare work.

        2. Are you an accountant? Everyone gets too defensive of their profession.

          Parasitic mechanics- probably love taking advantage of the increased business from automotive technology mandates.

          Parasitic road workers- public employee entitlements or public-private contractor welfare work recipients.

          Parasitic accountants- those who exist because of the overly complicated financial laws and taxes, and would bitch and complain about their services being made unnecessary by simpler taxes and regulations.

          1. Don’t foget parasitic police that love criminals

            or

            parasitic doctors that love disease.

    5. generally you can buy TurboTax for $50 and spend maybe 2-3 hours going through the guided program if you’re organized.

      Either that, or you can just become the Secretary of the Treasury Department.

      1. generally you can buy TurboTax for $50 and spend maybe 2-3 hours going through the guided program if you’re organized.

        Took me an entire day to do all my taxes (federal, state, another state, and local GET). Sent it off, realized I missed a deduction, and said fuck it, let it ride rather than subject myself to facing that again.

    6. His point it no one should have to spend more than 20 minutes doing taxes in the first place

    7. “1) Mr. Stossel doesn’t have to pay an accountant to do his taxes – the reason he does so is to make sure he pays as little as legally possible.”

      Not necessarily true. He could be paying an accountant to avoid under-reporting and ending up in .

      “2) Taxes are still pretty simple for the vast majority of taxpayers, generally you can buy (redacted) for $50 and spend maybe 2-3 hours going through the guided program if you’re organized. The tax code only gets complicated for people who make a lot of money, like Mr. Stossel.”

      The tax code can get complicated in a hurry if all you’ve done is inherited foreign property that pays no income.

      Class-conscious Marxist douche-bag.

  5. It’s time to reform the system.

    John, I just knew you’d come around.

  6. This site desperately needs registered accounts and/or moderation. Without them the comments will die.

    1. “This site desperately needs registered accounts and/or moderation. Without them the comments will die.”

      Thus far comments on this entry have been relatively civil and not entirely dumb. In general, I’d say the comments here are as often as not valid and/or amusing. Registration – even accepting that sometimes things here degenerate into unreadable baiting and semi-literate lunacy – would kill the spirit of the thing, frankly.

      1. most registered sites have a worse signal to noise ratio.

        And joke names are fun sometimes. Even more fun when you forget to change them back. But spoofing annoys the hell out of me.

        And incif handles any troll filtering needs.

        1. And joke names are fun sometimes. Even more fun when you forget to change them back. But spoofing annoys the hell out of me.

          Yeppers on both counts. Spoofers are assholes, but John Wilkes Booth sometimes has something pithy to add.

        2. Joke names are great, so allowing anonymous posting but with user moderation like slashdot might be ok?

          INCIF would be great if we all used it (or trolls were deleted by moderators), but frequently most of the comments are in response to the trolls at the moment.

      2. It would help if you guys didn’t have a knee-jerk “don’t feed the troll” reaction to anybody who challenges your dogma.

        1. It’d help in turn if you’d engage when you were engaged, instead of trolling.

        2. Quick, Scotch, hide me again.

        3. troll comments typically the most replies

          1. I typically a whole bottle of Coke

        4. Well, Scotch, it’s worth it to listen to the bleatings of the far-leftists who come on here and try to convert the unconvertible.

          Will Obamacare cover lobotomies?

      3. For Hit & Run, a mix of registered and unregistered accounts would be ideal. Registered accounts to deal with the occasional spoofing problem*. Unregistered to not kill off the often brilliant use of parodic pseudonyms.

        Moderation would be against the whole I’m-sitting-in-the-back-of-the-classroom-making-snarky-remarks-because-I’m-hipper-than-the-conservative-and-liberal-kids spirit of Hit & Run.

        * Anonymous, because I don’t want my name spoofed.

        1. I like it fine just the way it is, rough and tumble and trolling and all. Registration sucks. A libertarian site with unnecessary bureaucracy? Please.

          1. +1

          2. Where’s the love???

    2. dbcooper: that would be the antithesis of libertarian philosophy. registered accounts don’t allow for anonymous speech while comment thread moderation is the equivalent of censorship.

      i see comments on this site regularly that i find personally appalling but those people have every right to spew as much nonsensical drivel as they’d like.

      also notice that without registered accounts or moderation that the comments on this site tend to be less hostile and less hate filled than those found at a place like huffington post.

      1. Three things: (a) how about a user mod system like slashdot?

        (b) name spoofing is fun.

        (c) INCIF is not enough as frequently most of the comments are replies to trolls. If everyone used the INCIF …

        1. actually, the new incif allows you to choose between just deleting the trolls (my choice) or deleting the entire subthread under the trolls.

          1. It still remains that the focus of the comment communities’ activity would be the trolls, unless most of us use INCIF or the mods delete the trolls.

            1. the focus of the comment communities’ activity would be the trolls

              And the problem with that is? You trying to control the focus of other posters? I choose to use incif and not respond to them (although joe never went in my incif file and MNG didnt for the longest time) but if others want to, Im cool with that. A universal incif that I can use on any site, that also allowed me to rate good users so their posts got highlighted would be an awesome tool.

              Now spammers…they need to be dealt with. But trolls can be handled on the individual basis.

              1. It means that the “quality of discourse” goes down – threads are frequently mired in the same old arguments and bullshit.

                H&R can still be awesome, but it ain’t what it used to be.

                1. Huh, we’ve always had lots of trolls. An there has always been great fun in cutting their idiocy off at the knees. Granted, the quality of trolling has gone down since joe left.

                2. “It means that the “quality of discourse” goes down – threads are frequently mired in the same old arguments and bullshit.”- dbcooper

                  I haven’t heard that rationalization for censorship in a longtime! +1 to dbcooper.

                  So, who gets to designate who the trolls really are?

                  1. NewsHounds started using registered accounts lately, probably because they’re liberal fuckwads who love control of the dialogue.

        2. also, slashdots user mod system sucks. Leads to group think.

          1. So how about fairly light moderation that just removes persistent trolls by IP address?

            1. or just use incif and remove them yourself.

          2. Really? I think it generally works pretty well, but then I’m a regular moderator there, so perhaps I’m biased.

        3. I’ve tried to figure out how to make INCIF worked, and finally said, meh, not worth any more effort.

      2. It is WAY less vitriolic here. Even with the trolls hanging around, even with the occasional fights between Reason-readers, this place is a huge breath of fresh air.

        No kidding, I’ve been all over the great wide internet, and here, I’ve actually learned quite a bit. And laughed a lot. And discovered that there are some awesome geek Libertarians.

        1. It is WAY less vitriolic here.

          I do what I can, but I’m just one guy. You don’t have to tout my failures to everyone.

          1. I save my vitriol for here so I don’t use it on those I talk to at work and home…well I still yell at my kids.

            1. Yup. Me, too.

    3. I disagree. On moderated forums I never comment because my comment takes hours, or days, to be posted. After that amount of time has passed I am no longer angry.

      1. I prefer reactive moderation – delete trolls after they arrive, rather than queuing posts for moderation before they appear on the site.

      2. What do you mean there’s a three day waiting period to buy a gun? Because I’m angry right now!

    4. Registration and censorship on a libertarian website would be about as hypocritical as a Che Guevara T-Shirt bought at the mall and worn to a Carlos Santana concert.

      You must be a leftist dbcooper, because you are proposing authoritarian solutions for problems that don’t actually exist.

      1. Registration and censorship on a private site does not in any way conflict with libertarian political, social, or economic philosophy. It only feels hypocritical to the uninformed and willfully ignorant.

        1. Just so, eh?

        2. Registration and censorship is not hypocritical — it’s just clueless to the spirit of a libertarian site encouraging free speech and less bureaucracy.

          1. Let me guess, you also think libertarians who don’t voraciously consume heroin, regularly see prostitutes, and gamble are clueless to the spirit of libertarian philosophy. What’s that, no? Didn’t think so.

            1. Don’t worry, I do enough smack for at least 2 or 3 of the wuss libertarians. Enjoying my personal freedom 1 hooker and 2 hits at a time!

          2. Let me guess, you also think libertarians who don’t voraciously consume heroin, regularly see prostitutes, and gamble are clueless to the spirit of libertarian philosophy. What’s that, no? Didn’t think so.

            1. Your mother is the greatest libertarian I’ve ever seen. Using heroin and scripts (redeemable for sexual favors) instead of traditional chips while gambling has inspired me to start my own casino-brothel.

          3. S’pose I didn’t need to double post or be a dick about it. Anyway, barring violations of the nonagression principle, libertarian philosophy has absolutely nothing to say about what anyone or organization does with its private property, including whom to exlcude from the property. Full stop. This is the spirit of libertarian philosophy, not the penumbras and emanations you seem to think are also included.

  7. Simplification would be nice, but realize that much of the complexity comes from determining what is, and is not, “income” for tax purposes. There is some special interest involvement in that, but not as much as in tax breaks, deductions, credits, etc. You could wipe out all the breaks and still be left with the complexity of what “income” is.

    Of course, you can’t lower taxes while running a gigantic deficit. Borrowed money still needs to paid, and interest service in the future eats up ever yet more tax money. Cutting spending is how you cut taxes.

    1. Which is why a consumption tax actually makes more sense than an income tax.

      Ive said before I could only support the Fair Tax IF the 16th amendment is negated first. Otherwise we will end up with both.

      Personally I prefer* George’s single tax. Replace income/sales/property/etc taxes at all levels with the single tax. Yes, there is a limit to how much that can collect, that is the point. Well, the 2nd point.

      *I really prefer none at all, but you know what I mean.

      1. The problem with a consumption tax is that it is regressive – a person who doesn’t make much money will “consume” a higher percentage of his income than a rich guy does.

        The real answer is a wealth tax – let the people who benefit from the system pay the most for it.

        1. A wealth tax? How do the wealthy who use fewer government services and have no need for entitlements like social security and medicare benefit most from the system?

          Full disclosure: I’m poor as dirt but still use no government services/entitlements.

          1. I don’t know any wealthy people who do not benefit from government services…admittedly, the benefit is indirect but it is still there

              1. For example, if you own a house worth $1 million the goverment is providing you with a lot more protection than it is to the guy who lives in a cardboard box.

                1. The person with the million dollar house pays a lot in taxes, both income and property, to protect the house. The guy in the carboard box pays nothing, and actually uses the servics of the police which the rich man generously pays for.

                2. Are you channeling MNG making his “property rights are a gift from government because without police property itself is meaningless” argument?

                  Because it’s still backassed wrong.

                3. This is the real problem here Scotch. Even when you are not blatantly trolling, you are a dumb as a box of rocks.

                  1. I take umbrage.

                    1. Hey, he’s taking my umbrage!

                4. How so, though? Mostly, they have private security. They have alarm systems. Police patrol regardless of whether they’re patrolling a shanty or a mansion. They don’t park outside of said mansion.

                5. Yeah, but the local real estate taxes that provide that protection are a wee bit higher on the $1M home than the cardboard box, don’tcha think??

        2. The problem with a consumption tax is that it is regressive – a person who doesn’t make much money will “consume” a higher percentage of his income than a rich guy does.

          So you were opposed to the tobacco tax increase, overwhelmingly payed by those with lower incomes, used to fund the expansion of SCHIP so that folks who make up to 70K can get subsidized health insurance for their spawn?

          1. Scotch is in my incif, but since you quoted him, I will point out that the Fair Tax isnt regressive due to the “prebate”. Sign of a troll when they dont know what the hell they are talking about.

            1. I will point out that the Fair Tax isnt regressive due to the “prebate”. Sign of a troll when they dont know what the hell they are talking about.

              And a sign the fair tax people don’t really want (publically) a fair tax.

              1. a straight up consumpton tax without a prebate isnt regressive either. The person who saves his/ her money just shifts around when they pay the tax. At some point when they draw down those savings or give it to their inhertitors to spend they will consume more than what they are earning. Therefore they will pay a higher rate realtive to their income then. A single rate consuption tax in neither progressive nor regressive… its similar to a flat income tax in that regard. The amount of tax you pay is proportional to how much you make.

          2. Yeah, really. You want class warfare waged on those who can’t afford to fight back, take a look at smokers versus anti-smokers. Everyone can say, “Well, you can just quit.”

            Sure, I could. But it’s a legal product. And yet, my enjoyment of my legal product, paid for with my own funds, is taxed to bits for the sake of everyone else’s feel-good program. Hell, the original argument for these so-called sin taxes was to pay for smokers who take ill.

            They don’t even pretend to do that anymore.

            So, the majority of smokers are lower class and that is their anti-depressant, stress-reliever and simple pleasure in life, which once was — gasp! — affordable. Healthy or not. And the majority of anti-smokers appear to be both liberal and conservative fuckers who think it’s their job to legislate what other people do with their bodies, which is, if you ask me, exceedingly ironic.

            At least now, they’re going after people who like sugar, too.

        3. Who benefits more, someone who would be successful in any society or someone who doesn’t understand the directions to put on a condom?

        4. The problem with a consumption tax is that it is regressive – a person who doesn’t make much money will “consume” a higher percentage of his income than a rich guy does.

          That’s a good thing. It motivates people to make more money, and only spend on things they need, unless they can afford more. The condition is that it need to be across the board; whether you’re buying a yacht or a loaf of bread, you pay the same rate. No exceptions, exemptions, or conditions.

          1. Yeah, and what about those who don’t move up the income ladder? What about those who don’t make enough to feed their families.

            VAT=fail.

            1. And just how many of those would there be? I’m guessing few enough that charity or even a small state run safety net could catch them.

            2. The Fair Tax taxes care of that with it’s prebate. It doesn’t tax you at all up the the level of poverty. In fact if you were really poor, and really frugal, you might come out ahead.

              Also yes, I don’t like the VAT either. A Sales tax is MUCH better.

              1. A sales tax is easily evaded by concealing retail transactions.

                A VAT has a far lower incentive to evade as it requires the retailer to collect the tax in order to recoup the taxes he/she already paid to the wholesaler.

                1. The downsides of the VAT (i.e. lack of transparency) far outweigh this supposed advantage you speak of. I am from Tennessee, a sales tax/no income tax state and I can tell you I have never witnessed or heard of a major problem with sales tax collection fraud. Studies show wide ranging income tax fraud, though. VAT is collected at every stage of manufacturing, meaning many more collection sites, much more complexity and much more possibility for fraud than a sales tax, which is collected only at a end purchase site. Fewer collection sites equals less complexity and less fraud potential.

        5. Have a two- or three-tiered ‘flat’ tax to induce some progressivity in the tax structure, but eliminate the vast majority of deductions. Treat all income the same. Government shouldn’t be in the business of choosing what type of income is ‘better’ than another. A single standard deduction per individual.

          1. Dividend and cap gain income isn’t necessarily “better” income – it’s already been taxed once at the corporate level. You’re paying more taxes as an individual for receiving your share of after tax profits whether it be dividends – payments of corporate income directly to shareholders; or whether it’s cap gains – paying tax on the increased value of a business (retained earnings and increased value of the business).

            1. The corporate tax isn’t necessarily paid by the stockholders or owners, though. Rather, it is spread between the owners, customers, and employees (ie, just about everyone).

              Capital gains should be taxed like any other income, but (and this is a big “but”) it needs to be adjusted for inflation. Only real gains should be taxed. In the age of computers, this would not be a challenge at all to calculate.

        6. Hey, Scotch… tell us that higher gasoline taxes won’t be regressive on the poor.

          Wealth envy doesn’t solve anything, by the way. But wallow in your own bile if it makes you feel better.

        7. The most wealthy segment of Americans are the elderly, who after a lifetime tend to be more asset rich. Of course, converting assets to cash to pay a tax bill on wealth is more problematic.

          1. Too fucking bad for the old folks. I fully intend to find a way to tap into accumulated wealth – by force, if necessary.

            Bitches.

    2. True enough. Why not do both, reduce spending and eliminate the current tax code and implement a flat tax: you made $100K, you pay $11K. Simple one page form.

  8. Do taxes in America not get deducted by employers?

    1. deducted or withheld?

      Employers withhold tax, which is why most people get a refund. But it is only approximately the tax burden, because the withholding tables are simplistic and have no correlation to true deductions or outside income.

      1. The income tax may be the root of all evil, but tax withholding is the poison thorns of all evil that spread the evil to everyone it can find.

        Tax withholding is simply insidious and cynical. There is no other way to describe, no matter what the stated rationale (efficiency, liquidity, practicality) may be.

        1. Yep.

          I dont know what the hell Friedman was thinking. I know he apologized, but still.

    2. Not if you’re a freelancer. In that case, if you underestimated your quarterly payments, you end up writing huge checks right around now.

      1. Plus, most likely, a lot of dubious “penalties and interest” tacked on, because, well, you might not have know than 99% of your income was going to come in December, but by God, you still should have been able to see the future and have paid 25% of your total tax liability by April 15 of last year.

        The game is hopelessly rigged against the self-employed and unless you have ever been self-employed or been subjected to estimated payments, you have no idea how shitty it all really is.

        1. Yup. My side job is self-employment, and now I never get a refund, and actually have to pay several hundred dollars each year (more if I don’t calculate my expenses a, uh, certain way). So I get money taken from my regular paycheck every two weeks but still have to pay at the end of the year, and I never know exactly how much that will be. SO MUCH FUN

        2. All true. My extremes in recent years have been a $6000 refund due to overpayment, and writing a check for around $12,000 for underpayment. How the hell do I know what I’m going to make next year? Though this year my penalty and interest was $16 added to a bill of just over $3000, so it’s annoying but not a big deal.

  9. Never happen. The only answer is a long shot, a Constitutional amendment placing a hard cap on the percentage for any income tax. And that won’t happen because too many people profit from the current system. It’s like public employee unions in California. Personally, the only sane answer is leave the U.S. Become an ex-pat.

    1. No taxes in Saudi Arabia! Freedom at last!

      1. Well, that doesn’t invalidate the idea of reducing or eliminating taxes. But it helps to keep things in perspective.

        Reducing taxes is not viable right now. Spending reduction is what matters; military spending could do with a nice deep cut.

        1. I appreciate the effort Stossel has made to get these “wacky” ideas like questionin the power of Public Unions and Progressive taxation on the airwaves, but I think he will have difficulty criticizing even adjacently, the Neocon’s sacred cow of the Military. Lest we forget, Fox News touted the military/war on terror complex as wholly necessary, defended Bush’s myraid of misdeeds, shouted down detractors Libertarian and Liberal alike, convieniently downplays bad news from Iraq an Afghanistan, and since Obama’s election has yet to acknowledge any of that in any cursory apologetic fashion. Stossel may very well be on the same page as some of us when it comes to reducing military spending, but will Fox News let him question its size and cost? I have a feeling someone will rubber stamp his show proposal with “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TROOPS YOU FUCKING NAZI?!”.

          1. “Lest we forget, Fox News touted the military/war on terror complex as wholly necessary”

            Not True. O’Rielly has been on record from the start as opposing going into Iraq.

            1. “Not True. O’Rielly has been on record from the start as opposing going into Iraq.”

              Cite please.

              Despite that request for information, O’Reilly does not an enitre network make. What about Hannity? Beck (Yes, he was on MSNBC during the Bush years, I know)? Those assholes on the morning shows? All the pretty faces with not enough brains to fill a childs tube sock? All those producers, managers, and editors that really filter the slurry at the trough?

              To some extent, I appreciate Fox News for trying to be different, but sometimes bullshit is still bullshit even if it is covered in sprinkles.

              1. Yeah, like MSNBC.

              2. Beck was Headline News Network.

  10. Spending is what ails us. The method of collection is a navel gazer’s issue. We need to spend less. That is all. Maybe Stossel could devote a program to touting the fiscal benefits to be had by cutting back on our militarism, and closing the wastrel cold war bricabrac military bases in which we keep soldiers camped all over the world? That would be a hoot, Stossel taking after our monolithic and expensive standing army, instead of the tax collection scheme needed to support it.

    1. Sally, maybe you didn’t get the memo, but Stossel is a *libertarial*, not a *neo-con*. I know, I know, it’s confusing, making all these subtle distinctions, but just so we’re clear: you can be for low taxes and limited government and not be a neo-con shit head.

      1. Type-o: “libertarial” => “libertarian”.

        Although, come to think of it, that could be the word Stossel was looking for on the last Stossel show. “Libertarial”. I like it. It reminds me of liberty, flying and nipples all at the same time.

    2. Sally, you seem to be laboring under the assumption that military spending is a bigger percentage of spending than it is. It’s far exceeded by entitlement spending.

      1. Awesome! SO we should shut down domestic entitlement spending to help support our standing astride the earth military? That’s what’s passing as “libertarian” these days?

        I keep telling y’all that many of the lipstick libertarians here are 5th column corporate fascists, blending in, for now. Sure, they hate government (well, parts of it anyhow) and want it dead, just like libertarians. It’s what comes next, after the government, that draws the difference. Prepare to bow down to your corporate masters, knaves… You won’t have government to protect you anymore. Unless you want to call military imperialism “protection”.

        1. Where was it said that the military spending needs maintained? It was just pointed out, as it is a fact, that entitlement spending far outstrips military spending, and if you want to start dealing with the problem, you have to start with the biggest bill.

          Reading comprehension, yo.

        2. I was just responding to the common misperception that military spending is the bulk of federal spending. It’s not, but some people try to make it seem that way by only talking about “discretionary spending,” of which the DoD is a huge part, but that treats entitlements as sacred and not to be discussed.

  11. Tax returns for the lowest income earners, with children, are NOT simple. A storefront preparer will charge at least $200 to $500 for a return with a couple of W-2’s, earned income credit, child tax credit, child care credit and itemized deductions. Most people who get significantly more back than they put in are pretty fee-insensitive. Uncle is sending you $8,000 from your children’s future income, so you don’t quibble about whether your fee is $275 or $250. The reason for the fee is simple: each credit requires a different form which carries its own load of questions to be asked and answers to be verified as well as added liability should the preparer make a mistake or misunderstand the tax code. A little hint – if you use a store front, be sure your preparer is at least a 3rd year preparer and go in March, when fees are lowest and preparers are much less harried.

  12. Is there some sort of broad consensus regarding a flat tax percentage that would yield revenues similar to what we have now? John’s 17% seems awfully high. If the federal government did nothing besides what the Constitution allows, 2% ought to do it.

    1. 2% wont lead to similar revenues. It might cover constitutional functions (except for, you know, paying back the debt).

      I decided that I will stop bitching about taxes when Tax freedom day is Feb 7th or earlier (do the math).

      1. 2% wouldn’t even cover the military, which runs more than twice that.

        Again, here is another libertarian who proves he has no bleeping clue how big the budget is or what we spend on what.

        1. I have a clue, Chad… we spend too fucking much.

          Cut everything. Military, too. And keep the goddamned tax rates where they are. Wealth-envy is a sickness.

        2. “Is there some sort of broad consensus regarding a flat tax percentage that would yield revenues similar to what we have now? John’s 17% seems awfully high. If the federal government did nothing besides what the Constitution allows, 2% ought to do it.”

          In this post, there were two separate thoughts. He asked if someone had actually done calculations to arrive at the flat rate of 17% to equal current revenues b/c it seems a little high in his estimation. Then he moved on to another thought, which was that if the government performed only the functions enumerated in the Constitution, we could probably do with a flat rate of 2%.

          More than any other political group, libertarians are aware of what the government spends our money on. It is one of our core reasons for being libertarians. Looking at liberals and conservatives as groups, each has a small percentage of informed and intelligent members who understand where the money goes. The vast majority of both groups do not make an effort to understand and liberals in particular think money grows on trees.

          You need to understand that raising taxes is never going to fix anything with the budget. The govt will always find a way to spend every cent of tax revenue and then come up with a reason why they need more. They will never cut wasteful programs. They will just keep creating new ones. The people in Washington exist simply to give away other people’s money.

          1. Teve, I *rarely* observe economic conservatives who have more than a quarter of a clue how much we spend on anything.

            For example, the federal government has been spending about 20-22% of GDP for the last few decades (closer to 25% the last two years, due to the economic collapse). Therefore, a 17% flat tax, with NO exceptions, would obviously not be enough. A 2% tax would mean cutting 90% out of the budget, which would be about enough to cover debt interest, and nothing else.

            1. “would obviously not be enough” because liberals never think there are enough taxes.

              Tell us that five-dollar gasoline won’t be regressive on the poor, Chad. I dare you.

              1. If we had decent public transportation, it wouldn’t matter much.

                Why are you yapping about gas prices?

  13. J sub D|3.27.10 @ 9:54AM|#
    I’d grudgingly accept all of the social emgineering and economy fine tuning embedded in our byzantine tax code if just half of it accomplished the stated objectives.

    Since the success rate is dwarfed by the counterproductive failure rate, I just can’t.

    If a politician wants to get me excited about his or her campaign, a complete rewrite of the nation’s tax code that jettisons all* the favors, incentives and punishments in it would do it. If the rewrite actually increased revenue (boo!) 5%, it would still be a win for justice, sanity and the overall economy. The shackles removed from entrepreneurship and the removal of perverse incentives would more than make up for the small increase in the federal bite.

    * That includes, but is not limited to, home mortgage writeoffs, dependent deductions, health insurance …

    Yeah, one of your oxen would get gored.

    1. We can’t simplify the tax code because it has been complicated a long time and that is what we do. We are in a recesion and many accountants’ income depends on a complex tax code.

      1. Fuck the accountants.

      2. Broke accountant’s fallacy?

      3. Increasing and maintaining the complexity of the tax code should be looked at as a jobs program for tax accountants. It will help the economy. 🙂

      4. very good, a breath of fresh air. Susan, I look forward to your insights on these complex matters.

        Are you a member of Congress? Are you in the market for a boyfriend, or have you had one for a long time?

        1. Susan, looks like I am losin’
          I’m losin’ my mind (losin’ my mind)
          I’m wastin’ my time

          Susan do you have to be confusin’
          I ask myself why you’re sayin’ goodbye

        2. More importantly, do you swallow?

  14. Tax cuts and simplification without corresponding spending cuts is meaningless. In fact, spending cuts matter far more.

    Wake up and smell the coffee; starving the beast doesn’t fucking work. They just go into a deficit anyway; reduced revenues don’t stop flagrant spending.

    Cut spending first; right now, with a debt to pay, that’s all that can be done. We’re going to have to do without refunds or deductions for a couple decades, in order to get out of this rut.

  15. Sit Down Shut Up!

    50% of the people don’t pay taxes and piss and moan about taxes!

    Stop all the yammering about Obama and taxes and all the crybaby American, poor us crap and come up with some new ideas already.

    If you can’t reinvent this country and get over all this nonsense about how the government is everything then move to France already and go whine over there.

    America is done. Stick a fork in it.

    1. Everyone pays taxes — if not income, then FICA, then sales, then about fifty million others. Just sayin’.

      1. Well, Exxon Mobil doesn’t pay taxes.

        1. ExxonMobil in its 2009 annual report to the SEC, recorded a larger income tax expense than any other U.S. company last year, some $17.6 billion, or 47% of pretax earnings.

          What you meant was that none of it was paid to the US government. Really. all $17.6B went to foreign governments.

      2. FICA is called a “tax” to meet Constitutional muster, but it’s better considered a mandatory premium for future benefits.

        I don’t consider it a tax, at least in the context of saying that “poor people pay taxes too.”

        1. Nope. Its a tax. The Supremes said so. They also said there arent any benefits.

          Social security is a tax on the Fica side and a welfare program on the payment side.

          1. That’s what I mean. I think we’re saying the same thing.

            There is no constitutional allowance, necessarily, for welfare schemes, but Congress can tax. Hence they call it a “tax” when they have to and the Supremes agree with the reasoning. Obama is going to do the same thing with the insurance penalty when it comes down to nut-cutting time.

        2. FICA is called a “tax” to meet Constitutional muster, but it’s better considered a mandatory premium for future benefits ponzie scheme.

          FIFY

    2. Sit Down Shut Up!

      50% of the people don’t pay taxes and piss and moan about taxes!
      This must be one of the deluded who thinks that either FICA is not a tax on income or that there actually is a social security trust fund.

      People pay an income tax of 15.3% on the first dollar earned with no deductions allowed.

      But you knew that, right?

      1. But everyone who is poor consumes tons and tons of government services (lazy bastards!) so really it’s like they’re not paying!

  16. Here’s the deal:

    We are royally fucked, fiscally speaking, if we don’t dramatically reduce entitlement spending.

    I am more likely to win the lottery than our current political class is to reduce entitlement spending.

    Ergo, I am booking a trip to Costa Rica to look at property down there.

    1. Im going to sint maarten in October. I have a return flight booked, but youneverknow.

    2. My point exactly… expat is where it’s at.

      1. I hear Argentina is nice this time of year…

        1. Let’s all go to Guam and tip that bitch over!

    3. I think that Military spending could do with a nice, deep cut. It would have the same net balance.

      1. $700b in Pentagon funding
        $200b for two evil wars

        God only knows how much for black ops, CIA, FBI, TSA, DHS, etc.

        I say a good trillion-dollar-a-year defense spending cut is in order.

  17. Even though I’m a CPA (and thus stand to make less money if this passes), I’m fully in favor of the Fair Tax. It still protects low income people with the prebate, and also encourages savings and investments (something a flat tax doesn’t do).

    It would also put our companies on an even footing with the rest of the world because exports would no longer have the costs of taxes embeded in their price.

    Finally, it would encourage all those expats to move themselves (and their money) back to the US. Which would be a HUGE boon to the economy.

  18. Oh the other advantage of the Fair tax over a Flat tax, is that unless you sell goods or services you wouldn’t have any reporting requirements at all.

  19. I have an economics degree and I still don’t understand progressive taxation, at least from a mathematical basis. The stated rationale is that “rich people should pay more,” but (disregarding the common lazy error of confusing wealth with income) X% of $100,000 is still ten times bigger than X% of $10,000, no? So how do the “rich” still not pay more under a flat tax, particularly one with no exemptions, credits, or other politically inspired exceptions?

    The only answer is that the whole thing is one big corrupt government scam… but now I’m screaming in the wind, so I’ll quit.

    1. If I make $1000 monthly, and you make ten times that, and I spend 90% of my income on groceries etc, then a 10% tax on both of us hits me a whole lot harder than it hits you.

      1. All the more reason to make it 1%.

      2. A loaf of bread hits you harder, a house, car, chair, gas, toothpick, haircut, movie,dog food, winnebago, everything hits you harder.

        1. And… your point is?

          With a flat tax, the “rich” are still paying more absolute dollars than the “poor”. How is that inconsistent with your point about the cost of basic needs?

          If it were a flat fee, well then I see the reasoning, because that is indeed regressive. $1000 to Bill Gates is worth a lot less than it is to a single-mother waitress.

          But a flat tax rate is not the same thing and it’s specious reasoning to say otherwise.

          1. Simple, WTB. We should have a flat tax on discretionary income. Depending on your exact idea of “discretionary”, various amounts of income should be tax exempt. Taxing income over that level at a “flat” rate would indeed be progressive. I would set it $25,000 per adult and $15,000 per child. All income over that level could be taxed at a “flat” 25%, including capital gains. The corporate tax rate should be dropped to 25% as well. FICA is its own system, and is only kinda sorta a tax, and kinda sorta a government-run and mandated annuity and insurance plan. Throw in solid pollution fees (they are are NOT “taxes” because you get something immediately and directly in return…the right to pollute public property), and a significant VAT, and you could actually balance the budget.

            There is no remotely politically viable way to balance the budget without tax increases. When Republicans and libertarians grow up and accept this, we might be able to solve our problems. If you guys continue to act like babies, we are screwed.

            1. Chad, it is you and your fellow travelers who are the babies. You can’t wait to soak the rich (btw, the Obamas made five million bucks last year, let’s hear you rip ’em to shreds for being all bourgeois while people starve to death, waah!), you hate the free market, and you can’t get out of “we have to spend more and more every year until eternity, and then some” mode.

              Cut spending and keep taxes low. So simple, even a liberal should be able to understand.

              1. What is your plan to cut spending? There are only three that would work.

                1: Eliminate the military and ask the French for protection.

                2: Raise the retirement age to 75

                3: Eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, and shoot anyone who shows up at a hospital uninsured.

                Which do you prefer? Or do you have a real plan? If so, please explain it, and how you would deal with all the problems it would create?

                1. The military can endure significant cuts and still be effective.

                  Absolutely, raise the retirement age to at least 70. No brainer.

                  Scale back Medicare and Medicaid, repeal Obamacare.

                  Eliminate all govt subsidies to farms, energy companies, etc.

                  Cut a million and one wasteful pork projects.

                  Eliminate foreign aid.

                  and on and on and on…

                  1. Ok, I quadruple dog dare you to run on a “raise the retirement age to 70” platform.

                    If you do, I will at least consider you honest. You will also lose, badly.

                    1. The retirement age will be raised, and then indexed to life expectancy. There’s pretty much no other viable ways to do it.

                      And raising the age IMO will be MUCH eaiser than raising taxes or cutting other benefits.

                    2. Oh, I agree. The retirement age will increase. But there is no way we can solve the problem with this alone, which would require an immediately jump to 70+ years, AND indexing from that point.

                      Also, indexing is not a panacea, because healthy years do not increase as fast as life span. If lifespan increases from, say, 77 to 81, you would be lucky to observe a two year increase in years where it is really reasonable to expect most people to work. Indexing 2:1 would be the best you can hope for.

            2. There is no viable way to balance the budget with tax increases, as the trajectory of federal spending has completely used up any potential additional revenues from tax increases, and we already at a point where tax rates have dimishing returns. Yet the progressives insist that the government take on more and more responsiblities. The progressives have treated the government coffers as an infinite well, we are already screwed.

              1. Pollution taxes and consumption taxes are the solution, MJ. Income taxes don’t need to change much, and corporate taxes should actually drop to 25%.

                1. My comment was not referencing income taxes per se. The total tax burden is already at the point of dimishing returns. You may be able to jack up the total rate, but that just means the government gets a larger share of a smaller pie. Yet government responsiblities and the spending necessary to meet thos responsibilities just keeps going up.

            3. Chad, I like the way you got into my kitchen with the, “how about a significant personal deduction, then a flat tax beyond that” and just when I was about to offer you a drink and a bite to eat, you pull the “all the things that are sacred cows to me aren’t really taxes” shtick.
              Bravo, for getting past my locked door. You and encyclopedia salesman totally pwn me right now.

  20. “help three kids escape government schools by paying their tuition at a good Catholic school.”

    You know, I pretty much have no issue with what Stossel says. I’d prefer no taxes at all. But when I read that line, I laughed and laughed.

    The education might be substandard, but at least kids in a public school aren’t at risk of being raped beaten and otherwise abused by a well funded, world-wide paedophile ring.

    He could have just said “private school”. Sending your kids to be taught by child molesting deviants that believe in bronze-age mythology rather than reality seems pretty crazy.

    1. Maybe Stossel is a Polish Catholic?

    2. Only an asshole would assert that there are no sexual molesters in public schools.

    3. Catholic schools hardly ever even have nuns teaching in them anymore, never mind clergy. Seem more like a funding source than much of a religious institution.

    4. Mike, are you actually such a blind anti-Catholic bigot that you just equated the small percentage of priests who are pedophiles with the enormous bureaucracy that is the CAtholic school system.
      Because if that tainted reasoning is a product of the public school system, you have inadvertently proved Stossel’s point.

  21. Also, the Fair Tax only taxes New Products, so you could control, to a point, what you feed the beast.

    And my issue with ‘progressive taxation,’ is that I receive no ‘progressive representation.’ Rent-seeking & Evil Corporations aside does it really seem like a great idea that Cousin Eddie crushes a beer can on his forehead right before nullifying your vote?

    1. Yes, if you purhcased mainly used goods, and performed your own services you could pretty much get out of taxation.

      Also, love the idea of progressive represenation, lol

  22. The education might be substandard, but at least kids in a public school aren’t at risk of being raped beaten and otherwise abused by a well funded, world-wide paedophile ring.

    Like AFT members? Surely I don’t have to provide links to the so common they’re on page 3 stories of public school teachers, male and female, gay and straight, fucking their students.

  23. I have to take exception — once again — with the idea that tax cuts without spending cuts are meaningless/irresponsible/whatever. I’ll concede that spending is out of control and should be reigned in. But a tax cut affects me. I get to keep more of my money now. Even if spending stays the same or increases, and even if it’s effectively a tax on future me or my children or grandchildren, this is still an improvement. There’s a non-zero chance I might not be alive tomorrow and theft from other people — even my future kids and their kids — doesn’t concern me as theft from me does.

    1. Sorry I disagree, it’s never a good idea to screw over future generations more just so we can have more government spending today.

      So no, I don’t think the tax cuts that Bush did were a good idea without spending decreases as well.

      1. But who is screwing over the future generations? It sounds like you think I am, when all I’m asking for (well, one of the things I’m asking for) is the ability to keep my money. Responsibility rests solely with those writing and passing the laws.

        1. Well, when you accept the tax cut, without the spending decreases to go along with it, you are (or at least you are an accessory).

          A tax cut without a corresponding spending decrease is “almost” as bad as a spending increase. Both add to the debt that is required for future generations to pay. I say almost because of course it’s good to get to keep your own money.

          But it’s bad to pawn off todays consumption on future generations. Talk about taxation without representation.

          If that doesn’t convince you then look at it this way. It’s irresponsible for us to live beyond our means either as an indvidual or as a government. But it’s worse when we make other people pay for our spendthrift ways.

          1. You’re way off the ledge here Kroneborge. Let’s say someone kidnapped me and told me I have two choices: 1) allow him to kill me, or 2) go free, with the understanding that he is going to kill someone else in my stead. Choosing the second option does not make me an accessory to murder any more than keeping what I earned makes me an accessory to future taxation.

            1. No, because we/you are getting the “benefits” of those VEYR expensive government services now.

              So if the question is should the people responsible for the goverment spending have to pay for the crime, rather than make some other poor sucker pay, then yes the correct answer is to suck up and do it.

              Of course it’s better for their not to be a crime in the first place (high goverment spending) but if there is, it’s our duty to pay for it, not pass it on.

              1. I didn’t ask for them, and I don’t want them. And how can you possibily know how many benefits I’ve made use of vs. my “contribution” to society? (For the record, I’m 100% sure I’m not getting full value.) You continue to conflate my living life with the actions of other people. Let me put it words even you can understand: I’m not fucking responsible for the decisions and actions of others. And I’m damn sure I’m not an accessory to their poison.

                1. Oh, I’m pretty sure you arent’ getting fair value either (and neither am I). That’s not the point.

                  The point is it’s not right for us to kick the can down the road. It’s up to us to stop it.

                  1. It’s absolutely not up to me to stop X from robbing Y. To believe otherwise is to believe you or Y has a claim on my life, my body, my decisions. Fuck off.

                    1. x,y

                      Most of the decisions you are free to make in your life are there because of things taxes pay for. Without even quibbling about roads and utilities, to coin a cliche we could all be speaking German if not for the biggest government program of all.

                      So you fuck off looter because you want a free lunch. I didn’t ask for Reaganomics and neocon imperialism, but I am not acting like a whiny teenager who thinks he’s exempt from the rules of the place I live just because everything isn’t how I want it. You’re free to go away and live in one of those tax/collective action free paradises that exist in the world, which even if you had a time machine you’d have a hard time finding.

                    2. ‘…we could all be speaking German if not for the biggest government program of all….”

                      Good lord, now Tom Fucking Hanks is trolling Stossel’s article.

                    3. “…You’re free to go away and live in one of those tax/collective action free paradises that exist in the world, which even if you had a time machine you’d have a hard time finding….”

                      You mean like America in about 1910? That would be horrible. The most powerful industrial nation in world history, before it instituted a repressive tax system and got mixed up in foreign wars that were none of North America’s g-d@m business.

                      Cue Tony and his “kids working in coal mines” shtick.

  24. I wish I had one of those hot teachers to have sex with that you hear about now days. Sigh…

    1. Even if it means she’d get life in jail (NB: I’m too lazy to find the link)?

      1. No, I wouldn’t want her to go to jail.

        But then again, I’m not in favor of statuary rape laws anyway. If you are old enough to be tried as an adult for murder, you are old enough to have sex.

  25. Gallup: 63% of Americans expect tax hikes in next 12 mos. That’s what is fueling the Tea Parties.

    http://is.gd/bubQH

  26. Last year I served in Iraq and payed $43 in Taxes. I got back over $1500. What a country!

    1. The last year I worked in Iraq I paid $43,000 in Federal taxes and $18,000 in CA taxes. What a country!

      1. Ha, you are lucky our masters let you keep as much as they did.

  27. My grandfather died at 97 yrs. He was a Blue Dog Democrat from Missouri until “Rooooosevelt”, as he called him. After that, aside from a fondness for Truman, he was an anarchist. Neighborhood rule was about all he could abide.

    He often said the two darkest days in America was when the day the people allowed the government to tax their income; and they day they allowed them to “steal” it via mandatory payroll withdrawel rather than paying it all at the end of the year. I believe he had something there.

    1. Withholding is such a scam.

      If everyone had to write a check, monthly, quarterly, annually, we would have a lot smaller and more accountable federal government. As it is, the politicians can hide the true cost of what they’re doing, you have to justify getting your own money back, and there’s less accountability because the money is always going to be there, no matter what.

    2. There is some debate as to whether the 16th amendment was properly ratified.

      1. Amen,
        Go to the irs website (or the Library of Congress) and seach 16th Amendment – you will be taken to a link with the 16th Amendment. It is a paragraph long and hardly covers anything. Given the turmoil in congress at the time, it is of no suprise that the 16th amendment was passed at the same time the FED was chartered. It reads ‘The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.’ – I am not sure how they managed to pass that, but I could not imagine a more draconian wording that could have been used. I say abolish it.

  28. Come to think of it, my grandfather is probably why I used to fudge on my taxes but now I cheat like a bitch.

  29. WAGES ARE NOT INCOME!! Tommy K. Cryer beat the IRS in 2007. By the IRS own definition, “income” is profit. When we are paid by the hour, we trade our time for money and thus there is no “income”. Here is a link for more on the Tommy Cryer case: http://www.wnd.com/news/articl…..E_ID=56855

  30. “U.S taxes were once simple! The government funded itself on tariffs and excise taxes.”

    Stossel calls that simple? I fucking hate taxes being used for social engineering and industry manipulation more than I hate the taxes them self.

  31. Talking about Bob and he’s sitting right there.

  32. Ask not what your accountant can do for you…

  33. Chris Marshall, an inconvenient tie-less outfit.

  34. Consumption tax? Can a push for a flat tax be far behind?

  35. Teabagger, John. You know you want to say it.

  36. Again with the golf cart, John?

  37. “Coming up: Commercials aimed at the elderly.”

  38. That cart is going to waste. Somewhere some retiree is walking from the clubhouse to the tee.

  39. Tomberlin, you selfish bastard. I WANT MY FREE GOLF CART.

  40. Does Progressive Insurance know you’re running a ticker under their commercials, FoxBiz?

  41. “You do ultrasounds for pets of some sort,” he says derisively.

  42. And now they’re happily married (with well-organized closets and IRS agent heads mounted on the wall).

  43. “We all want the government to keep us safe.”

    -John Stossel, statist

  44. We were expats most of last year in Canada and I just filed everything today. Canada took a way bigger bite than our income would dictate here in the U.S., and we could buy a half-dozen insurance policies with the difference…so that’s how “free” healthcare is.

    I will say that the Canadian tax form is admirably simple: Our combined federal/provincial form was only 19 pages, while our 1040 was 47 pages and Arizona was an additional 16.

  45. Tell it to the Constitution, Neal.

  46. Representation without Taxation!

    (Copyrighted!!!)

  47. Representation without taxation.

  48. The mustache covers your sneers, John.

  49. Great, so now as a retailer I have to collect everyone’s taxes for the government.

  50. Neal Boortz, racist stereotyper

    1. Yes! Boortz hates black people! We said so, therefore it’s true!

  51. And Bob doesn’t offer a happy ending.

  52. Apparently FoxBiz ad sales thinks the biggest Stossel demographic is cat-owning shut-ins.

  53. Now this guy hates class warfare for some reason.

  54. Neal Boortz, lobbyist hunter

  55. Point on the adding machine where the bad government abused you.

  56. If you would have elected me back in ’96, this would have been taken care of long ago…

  57. Why a flat tax of 17%???? Why not 13%, like Russia? Why not 10% — the math would be easier. Why not 1%? That’s easy, too, and would give the government plenty of cash for its essential functions.

    1. 1% wouldn’t even cover our debt interest.

      1. Because your party, and the Republicans, have changed things for the worse, Chad, by insisting that we create more bureaucracy and spend more money.

        Well, not “we” as in ordinary people. It’s all done by self-appointed thugs in Congress, put there by fools who continue to believe said thugs actually care about we ordinary people.

  58. Thanks to assholes like you mother fucker.

  59. What’s with this idea that it isn’t super rude and elitist to insult people who don’t pay income tax? I work a job I love. It doesn’t pay me a whole bunch. Filled out a tax form. I don’t owe it to you to get a more lucrative job- your beef is with the Govt redistributing wealth, not me.

  60. Stossel! Stossel! Stossel!

  61. The government will always spend what it takes in and then some, no matter what. There is a FINITE supply of oil, and every day there is less. There will always be moochers with their hands out, again ALWAYS. People who are happy with the amount of taxes they pay more than likely pay none. As the BOOMERS get older, the percentage of people carrying the water for everyone else will go down. At some point, there will be a crisis, everything, and I do mean everything has a BEGINING and an END -even a free ride. Prepare. When this scheme falls down around our ears you had better be ready.

  62. Did anyone hear the comment Obama made that tea party members should THANK HIM for taxcuts??? Not that I support everything the loonies the TP members believe or the people that (unfortunately) are terrible leaders for their cause (Sarah Palin. cough cough), but the arrogance of this president is unlike anything I have ever seen or heard before.

  63. “How’d we get to this point?”

    Almost 100 years ago, Woodrow Wilson had imperial ambitions. The western frontier was closing, and the nation’s politicians turned their attentions outward. A war was brewing, and Wilson wanted to play with the big boys in Europe, and show them that he could be a member of their Empire Club.

    But this would cost lots of money, and the American people were unlikely to want to fund Woody’s foreign adventures with higher taxes. (War and empire building is always expensive.)

    So he went to the finance boys on Wall Street, JP Morgan and the rest. Seeing an opportunity for more business (bankers always want to loan more money to borrowers that pay), the bankers said:

    “No problem, Woody! We’ll give you a permanent revolving line of credit. We’ll create a private bank for Uncle Sam. All we need is some collateral to secure the loan, and a guarantee of a solid income stream for your little government operation. This is just good business. And while you’re at it we also want a monopoly on printing and distributing the money that everyone else must use.”

    And with payoffs to a few key senators and congressmen, it was made so. The Federal Reserve was created and given the monopoly power to create and distribute the money that everyone else was forced to use. And its books were forever sealed to the prying eyes of Congress and the public.

    As collateral, Congress pledged the entire gold reserve of the United States.

    To ensure the ability to make monthly payments on the perpetual loan, Congress granted the Fed and its bankers a lien on the wages and profits of every American individual and business. This we call the “income tax.”

    And everyone was happy: The bankers got a huge new permanent customer to loan money to, with the loan secured by the biggest pile of gold on the planet, and payment guaranteed by first claim on the wages of an entire nation. And, they got the privilege of making and distributing unlimited amounts of money to themselves and their buddies, in secret and without government oversight or veto.

    The politicians got a permanent source of money, without having to raise taxes, for a while at least.

    And the people got promises of worldwide empire and prosperity, without working too hard.

    What could ever go wrong with this scheme?

  64. Citizens Against Government Waste: http://www.cagw.org/

    Join the TeaParty movement: http://www.TeaPartyRevolution.com

    http://www.TeaPartyExpress.com

  65. Debate should concern a consumption tax. Progressive consumption tax versus a flat consumption tax. See arguments by Robert Frank, et. al….

  66. “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” ~Romans 13:7

    Essentially God is to blame for higher taxes. If resisting authority, (and taxes) is resisting God, logically God had a reason to want us to raise taxes in the first place, so we should be happy to pay them so God will be pleased with us.

    Apparently God’s worker Jesus went on strike and isn’t performing any miracles.. or perhaps he delegated his authority to the world’s doctors whose wive’s needed to live in complete luxury while they performed God’s work. It’s unclear at this point, but one thing is for certain:

    It is God’s will that every bum shall be healthy, and that is why ObamaCare happened.

    I’m no theologian, but I think that if I was God, I would seriously get tired of hearing everybody whining to me about how sick and unhealthy they are… even God has his breaking point. I would eventually break down and give everybody what they wanted just so they would leave me alone.

    Taxes = God got bored with humanity.

  67. My question is how can we devise a winning marketing strategy that can overcome the inevitable vilification that a tax simplification plan will face?

  68. I think that Art Laffer’s 13% flat tax is a better deal. It also unlocks the long term capital gains that allows Warren Buffet to pay less taxes than his secretary. However, I really would rather reduce that to 10% as the government is much too big.

  69. Just a few basic examples can show how the complexity of the tax code favors the rich. You can write off the interest you pay on the mortgage to your house.

  70. All we need is some collateral to secure the loan, and a guarantee of a solid income stream for your little government operation. | ran ??? |

  71. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

  72. ernment schools by paying their tuition at a good Catholic school.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.