Taxes

Don't Let Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Kill Tax Day

It's the one time of the year taxpayers are confronted with just how much of their earnings are captured by the government.

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Sanders
MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA/Newscom

The deadline for filing federal income tax returns is approaching fast. While this is understandably a frustrating time for many, it's also the one time during which many taxpayers are confronted with just how much of their earnings are captured by the government. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), think that is one time too many. They want the Internal Revenue Service to prepare tax returns on behalf of taxpayers instead of leaving it as an individual responsibility.

This idea is pitched as a "simplification." And, to be fair, the complexity of our tax code is undeniable. It results in tax-compliance costs that can reach nearly $1 trillion annually, according to my colleague Jason Fichtner. However, the solution to this complexity isn't to add to the opacity of the system and make the cost of government even less visible to those picking up the tab. There's already too much of that.

First, automatic tax withholding has gone a long way to hide the amount of taxes we pay annually. Also hidden is the fact that the burden of any tax falls on—and is paid by—people, whether they be consumers, investors or workers. Different types of taxes—individual, corporate, capital gains, dividends, estate, gift, etc.—are all borne by people but not necessarily by the person who cuts the check to the IRS. It results in a fiscal death by a thousand cuts without taxpayers noticing.

For example, consider payroll taxes, which are withheld from paychecks. Few people realize that this is likely the biggest tax they pay. It's also sold as something other than an income tax by taxing only qualified wages. Yet, because it's withheld from wages, the same ones that are used as part of the individual income tax base when filing your taxes in April, it's just a clever way to double-tax you without you even knowing. Furthermore, its full burden is hidden by pretending that half of the burden is carried by employers (employers pay 7.65 percent; workers pay 7.65 percent; and the self-employed pay the full 15.3 percent), when in reality, the burden of the employee share is shifted to workers in the form of lower salaries.

As a result, without putting serious time and effort into figuring it out, it's all but impossible to tally how much is truly coming out of your pocket. The solution to this cost, however, is not to let the IRS prepare our tax returns and require nothing but a signature of approval from the taxpayer. For one thing, the government's incentive is to maximize tax collection, whereas individuals generally prefer to pay the lowest amount legally possible. And second, the IRS isn't particularly good at understanding its own rules, yet taxpayers would still be held responsible for the errors. Considering the tremendous and one-sided power held by the IRS, many would be scared to question the accuracy of an IRS-created return even if it's warranted.

Automatic withholding was first proposed in the midst of World War II. It was considered an emergency wartime measure to fund a greater percentage of war costs with current taxes than was done during World War I, in hopes of avoiding the same degree of inflation seen during the prior war. Free market economist Milton Friedman was a young Treasury Department employee at the time, and he even helped develop the program.

Friedman would later lament, "It never occurred to me at the time that I was helping to develop machinery that would make possible a government that I would come to criticize severely as too large, too intrusive, too destructive of freedom." He did it by accident, as he never wanted the program to exist during peacetime. Sens. Warren and Sanders seek to do the same today but deliberately.

We don't need taxpayers less involved in funding the government. For those with the goal of shrinking government and reducing taxes, the aim should be the opposite: to make the costs of big government clearer to those who carry the burden of funding it. Finally, the best way to bring about simplification for taxpayers is to implement fundamental tax reform, not give more power to the IRS.

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  1. The IRS preparing people’s tax returns? That’s actually an idea? Forget two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner; that’s two wolves telling the sheep, ‘don’t worry about it, we’ll sort dinner out for you by ourselves.’

    1. I came here to say pretty much this.

    2. I’m only surprised that their solution wasn’t to have your employer pay the government all of your wages, and then the government would distribute what they think you actually deserve into your account once a year. That seems more in line with what they would believe in.

      1. From each according to his ability, to each according to his/her/xer political affiliation, race, gender, sexual identity, national origin,…

      2. That’s the step after this one.

  2. Keeping you as involved in how much you are paying in taxes is a great idea Veronique. It reminds me of the people that say election day should be 1 day before taxes due day.

    It always amazes me how many people love that tax return as their “yearly bonus”. When I point out that they just gave the US government and interest free loan for 12 months, they all say “I know I know but I like get a few thousand back, so I can buy something”. I just can’t believe how stupid that answer is ever time that I hear it.

    Everyone charged with a crime should be forced into a speedy jury trial to take plea bargain pressure of those who want to fight for their rights and everyone should have to pay their entire tax bill every year. It would change how “innocent” people view a bloated Nanny-State. Which is the reason the state would never go for it.

    1. I just can’t believe how stupid that answer is ever time that I hear it.

      Enh, I can’t fault people for their human nature to focus on the one ray of sunshine coming out of a steaming pile of shit.

      1. or admit their own inability to budget. I can respect honesty in that way.

    2. It reminds me of the people that say election day should be 1 day before taxes due day.

      Worth noting April 15th is approximately as far away from early November – whether previous year or current year – as possible.

    3. The problem is the automatic withholding. They don’t see the money going out, they only see it coming in. Stop the withholding and have the IRS send a monthly bill to everyone, and things will change.

      1. Neither of those things, tax day being exactly in the middle of an election cycle, and withholding money you will never see, are accidental. Government does not want us seeing or thinking too much about it.

      2. The problem is the automatic withholding.

        Yeah, fuck Milton Friedman. Somebody should have kicked his ass for coming up with that trick.

        -jcr

        1. He spent most of his life kicking himself in the ass for that trick.

    4. I totally agree with you, loveconstitution1789. Unfortunately, I could rant about this ad nauseam. I would never trust the IRS to prepare my tax return, ever. As you said, Congress should eliminate withholding altogether so that taxpayers must pay their tax bill annually, which would force them to see how much they are paying. Eliminating withholding would reduce the size, scope and spending in government immediately. No executive orders, no tweets, no marches in the streets, no hearings required. More importantly, if Congress does not provide a plain English, comprehensive budget annually and explain each item to the taxpayers, we should have the option to withhold payment until that task is complete. Eliminating withholding should also eliminate the problem of fraud associated with IRS refunds because no one gets a refund. Everybody must pay. My identity was stolen via the IRS two years ago, and I am stilling dealing with the bureaucratic red tape while the IRS admonishes me to pay my taxes regardless of their incompetence. To repeat, I would never trust the IRS to prepare my tax return, ever.

    5. Agreed but some people can’t save so it’s a forced savings…with no interest for some.

      For me, I didn’t plan on getting a new car (Daughter decided that for me) so getting some small return because of that I’ll accept

  3. I read the headline as “Don’t let Elizabeth Warren Kill Bernie Sanders” and for the life of me I couldn’t come up with a good reason why not… is hoping for a murder – suicide make me a bad person?

    1. Is there a petition we can sign to make Warren and Sanders pit-fight each other? I would endorse the shit out of that.

      1. Welcome to the Thunderdome! Two statist fuckwits enter, one statist fuckwit leaves!

        1. Sanders has that hunchbacked crazy-old-man ape strength, but you know Warren fights dirty, so it should be a fairly even match.

        2. I would prefer neither leave, so that should be an option.

        3. I would prefer neither leave, so that should be an option.

          1. F’n echo, echo…

      2. Senile Cowboy vs. Fake Indian

        I love the idea

      3. But they both wear glasses .

  4. So the answer to our complicated tax code isn’t to fix it or change it, but to let the government take care of it. But isn’t that always the response to problems caused by government? More government!

    1. its the only proper solution so sayith the proggies since the government never makes mistakes.

  5. Sens. Warren and Sanders seek to do the same today but deliberately.

    Fascists are gonna fascist.

  6. I can’t speak for all Americans but from a young age (I started having withhold taxes taken out of my pay at 11) and I was very cognitive of the fact I was paying taxes weekly. Every week I worked I’d get my pay stub and would see a weekly and year to date amount of taxes withheld. The first check I ever wrote was to the MD comptroller.

    So I will know what I paid in taxes and if the government simplified it I would be in favor of that completely. My only pause for concern is that it is coming from these two idiots.

  7. Holy fuck, let those stumblebums do my taxes? If it wasn’t Warren and Sanders I’d think that was a joke.

    I can see it now: the IRS guy who does my taxes fucks up the arithmetic and concludes that I owe $1 trillion in taxes. If I have the temerity to object or to even request that he do the math again I get put in prison. Wow, sign me up!

  8. “…They want the Internal Revenue Service to prepare tax returns on behalf of taxpayers instead of leaving it as an individual responsibility. This idea is pitched as a “simplification.”…”

    Oh, it certainly is.
    In fact, both those slavers could make it simpler yet; have our pay deposited in a government account and the government then decides how much you get!

    1. I believe you have deduced the core idea behind this, not that they will admit it.

      Also, if the IRS does the work, do they also take responsibility for any errors? My guess is, no.

    2. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I was stupid. I check the box on the 1040 that said I wanted the IRS to finish computing my taxes. They sent me a bill for zero dollars and zero cents. I essentially gave away my refund to Uncle Sam.

      This is why when the doctor says to take your meds, you need to take your meds!

  9. Christ, what assholes.

    1. Can you imagine being Jesus Christ, and constantly being associated with assholes?

      1. Jesus is all like “Me, you people are fuckin’ dicks.”

  10. Caption contest: “I only peed this much, but the YMCA says i’m not allowed in the pool anymore.”

    1. I will NOT comb my haiuh! You cannot make me comb my haiuh! Only Billionaires comb theyuh haiuh!

  11. Can you imagine reforming the United States Tax Code? It would be like legalizing all drugs. Entire industries would collapse. Constitutional protections would become meaningful again. The major platform for engineering society would fall away. Mass hysteria.

  12. Let’ keep it simple-I do not trust the IRS to handle the complexities of my tax return that they created, so I will simply give them access to my bank accounts and credit cards any time they want-on an “honor system” of course…

  13. How is that even supposed to work, given that some sources of income, deductions and expenses may not be reafily discoverable by the IRS? On top of the fact that IRS helplines on how to prepare one’s taxes have been notoriously ignorant of the tax code.

    1. That’s part of the point, the secret sting if you will.
      Even if it falls through, as we may hope it will, spotlights will be down on the fact that there are source of income that are obscure to or hidden from the government. This will call for increasing amounts of reporting of all financial transactions of any sort to the government. Not for surveillance purposes, oh goodness no! For purposes of insuring that you get a valid and well-prepared tax form. It’s for your benefit.

  14. my best friend’s mother-in-law makes 69 every hour from home and she has been out of a job for three months. the previous month her earnings was 20887 just working on the internet 2 hours per day. see this page

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.moneytime10.com

    1. I will report her to the IRS immediately!

  15. it’s also the one time during which many taxpayers are confronted with just how much of their earnings are captured by the government

    I don’t know about the sorts of people you hang out with, but I can guarantee you if I asked the next ten people I meet how much they paid in taxes this year just about every single one of them would say, “Oh, I never wind up paying the IRS, I always get a refund.” They don’t have a clue.

    One of the best-paying jobs I ever had I had to quit after about a year and a half because I just couldn’t take looking at my paycheck stub every week and seeing a fucking Mercedes Benz payment worth of taxes being taken out of it. Every. Fucking. Week. Where’s my Mercedes Benz, you bastards? I’m out here busting my ass in the hot sun 60 hours a week and not a goddamn one of you is lifting a finger to help me and I’m driving an eight-year old F-150?

    1. This is why i’m a fan of making Tax Day the day before Election Day – in conjunction with getting rid of withholding altogether. Come and see the extortion inherent in the system!

      1. Actually, same day…

        You write your check for the tax due and get a receipt which is used to get a ballot. No tax receipt, no ballot.

        1. Beautiful idea. I suggest a citizens initiative in every state.
          J.S. Mill proffered a proposal to ensure people would not vote themselves more largess, that is that only net tax payers are given franchise. Tax takers loose their franchise until such time as they return to a solvent status. This would ensure that those who vote could not vote moar at others expense.

    2. “I don’t know about the sorts of people you hang out with, but I can guarantee you if I asked the next ten people I meet how much they paid in taxes this year just about every single one of them would say, “Oh, I never wind up paying the IRS, I always get a refund.””

      I posted an AM link; the local newspaper is horrified that CA’s socialized medical care is going to have to be paid by CA rather than ‘the federal government’.
      That money is just there and if you get a refund, that means you didn’t pay any!

  16. a) The claim that people don’t know how much they really pay in taxes is bogus on its face.

    b) The claim that wages and salaries would be higher by the amount employers pay in FICA if they didn’t have to pay it is bogus. Employers, in general, pay as little in wages as they can get away with and still attract workers. The corporate tax rate, for example, averaged a hair below 50% from 1950 to 1980 and the real (inflation adjusted) average income of the bottom 90% (a good proxy for wages) rose by over 80%. The corporate tax rate has averaged about 35% since 1980 and yet the real average income of the bottom 90% has risen by only 4%.

    c) The claim that having the IRS fill out tax returns for many people would further “hide” from people what they are paying in taxes is bogus. People are not that stupid and, obviously, they could and would (especially in the case of itemized deductions) opt to file the returns themselves.

    1. a) citation needed
      b) irrelevant
      c) citation needed

    2. How much bullshit is buried here?

      “The claim that wages and salaries would be higher by the amount employers pay in FICA if they didn’t have to pay it is bogus. Employers, in general, pay as little in wages as they can get away with and still attract workers.”
      It the article did not claim a 1:1 relationships, so we see the first strawman. And if there were not that burden, you can doggone well believe employers would have to offer more for labor.

      “The corporate tax rate, for example, averaged a hair below 50% from 1950 to 1980 and the real (inflation adjusted) average income of the bottom 90% (a good proxy for wages) rose by over 80%. The corporate tax rate has averaged about 35% since 1980 and yet the real average income of the bottom 90% has risen by only 4%.”
      So what?

    3. What a bizarre idea that the total cost of employing someone has no effect on the pay rates offered in the market.

    4. People are not that stupid

      Welcome to Planet Earth! How was your flight? You gonna stay here a while or just sight-seeing before you head on back to your planet? Since this is your first visit, I’d strongly encourage you to pick up a guidebook to the life forms that inhabit this world. Have a nice stay!

      1. Can I poach? Simply, beautiful!

    5. People are not that stupid

      Apparently you missed the most recent presidential election. Did you see the candidates that were offered to he people? Did you see who the political parties chose?

      Yeah. I’ll go with “Yes, the people ARE that stupid”

      1. I will say that the Democrats’ republican form of choosing their candidate worked in Hildawg’s favor. It might have been a much tighter race if the Democrats had a democratic form of choosing a primary candidate. Of course, if Bernie had slimed his way in, your point would still stand.

    6. Your employer doesn’t care who he writes the checks to. It costs $X an hour to get your work and that includes the check he has to write to the IRS on your behalf. If anything, it would save him some accounting costs to only write one check for the whole amount made out to you.

      And yes, a lot of people *are* that stupid. They think if they don’t have to pay anything *extra* they aren’t paying taxes at all.

    7. a) I’ll take that bet. How much of your welfare check do you want to bet because you obvious don’t know working people.
      b) Nice rant with no citation. I guess the 90% is so poor now..wait, I thought it was 99%. Yet earnings and standard of living has increased greatly. Oh and the corporate tax rate is the highest in the world! Have to love that right?
      c) Haha haha – people hate doing taxes, so the majority would just take whatever the government told them they owed.

  17. They want the Internal Revenue Service to prepare tax returns on behalf of taxpayers instead of leaving it as an individual responsibility.

    I’m sure they’ll be completely fair in their preparation of tax returns and work to ensure that no taxpayer pays a penny more than the bare minimum that they owe. After all, these are selfless public servants we’re talking about! /sarc, obviously

    1. How can they be fair when they are incompetent? A client just had her $1,000 child tax credit rejected because “box on line 6c wasn’t checked.” Funny, the photo copy in my file clearly shows the box was checked. Now I get to hassle back and forth with the IRS dispute resolution folks (and can’t bill my client for the time either).

  18. Do away with all of that and just go to the Fair Tax

    1. And by fair you mean flat?

      1. For most people that’s effectively what it is, coupled with a standard deduction of the poverty line. But it’s actually a proportional (fuck that “regressive” nonsense) consumption tax with spending to the poverty line exempted through a prebate.

    2. because it isn’t fair, some pay more taxes than others.

      Fair is amt spent divided by total (legal) population = amt due per person. THAT is fair. If you can’t pay yer bill, you can’t vote (for more of other people’s money).

      1. There’s no such thing as a “fair” tax. No matter what they base it on, there will still always be people getting inequitably screwed in one sense or another.

  19. Once again proving the Democrats are indeed the evil party.

  20. Typical prog logic at work here-“People are too stupid or dishonest to be trusted with their tax returns, so we will do it for them and pretend we are helping them.”

    1. Most taxes are already taken out before you get your paycheck. The only thing a tax filing does is balance the books for other income.

      1. there are a lot of Americans that are self employed and have to prepare their own taxes to know what they owe. Farmers, contractors, gardeners, handymen, local mechanics, local stores owners attorneys, private doctors. the number of people who don’t get a monthly pay stub is large in fact it includes every small bussiness employer. So no taxes are not automatically taken out for everyone.

    2. If you like your tax preparer, you can keep your tax preparer.

    3. If you like your tax preparer, you can keep your tax preparer.

    4. If you like your tax preparer, you can keep your tax preparer.

    5. If you like your tax preparer, you can keep your tax preparer.

      1. Sorry for the echo… 🙁

  21. Looks like the tax-return lobby hacks are working overtime in the comments. Their plan would send a document showing exactly how much everyone is paying in taxes, to confirm, or modify. I, like the majority of Americans (simple majority here, and that’s A LOT of us), never itemize because I don’t spend enough on my employment, never spend much on medical care, and wasn’t handed a bunch of investments with a silver spoon. I pay my max into retirement-deductible, because I communicate with my employer. I know exactly how much of my income goes to the fed, social security, medicare, and my state via the income tax (not as easy to know with sales tax, would have to compile my bank statements).

    I really don’t get what you’re complaining about unless, 1) you’re an idiot who can’t read a statement each year where the government tells you how much you will pay in taxes unless you want to itemize/ add tax credits/ modify, 2) are a partisan idiot who can’t tell the good ideas from those senators from their many awful ideas, or 3) are a hack for the tax-return industry.

    Make elections right after they send the statement clearly itemizing how much you are paying in taxes unless you want to modify. Making taxes easier to do is a no-brainer for government. That most comments here don’t recognize that indicates me most readers here have anything but the noun that forms the name of this web site.

    1. Because the government lies.

      1. And is also exceedingly incompetent.

    2. the tax-return lobby hacks are working overtime in the comments

      Guys, we got busted. Oh well, at least we’ll have some fun tales to tell at our next HyR Block office party.

      1. So instead of Soros-paid trolls, do we now have to worry about H.R. Block-paid trolls?

    3. I’m not sure why, but I get the feeling you read neither the article nor any of the comments.

      1. I wonder that about you. Let’s see, complaints consist of:

        1) That spending my time hand typing my W2 info into TurboTax consists of engagement with the tax process? Um no, that occurred when they took that money from me in my paycheck stub. So I don’t see how that complaint holds water.

        2) That the government is going to purposefully falsify my W2 info on my return so I pay more. Me and about 10% of other people are going to verify that. Most idiotic move ever as that many people will cause a reckoning for any politician or civil servant idiotic enough to be involved in such an easily verifiable scandal. Yes the government lies, but not about things that ever citizen can easily check. Only about things where we have to put in a FOIA and is a pain in the ass to get at the truth.

        What other concerns are there? The plan being criticized will clearly label the real pain (loss of my paycheck) and eliminate the superficial irritation (transcribing my W2) for a hundred million Americans. The rest will still have to scrutinize anyway, if their taxes are more complicated, so it’s a wash for them. Don’t get the strong resistance here other than Bernie Sanders and Warren garner a lot of hatred for how awfully partisan and narrow-minded they are. The same behavior I see in the comments here. Ugly. Sad.

        1. That spending my time hand typing my W2 info into TurboTax consists of engagement with the tax process? Um no, that occurred when they took that money from me in my paycheck stub.

          Oh, you’re one of those guys. The length of your posts should have tipped me off.

          Me and about 10% of other people are going to verify that.

          Look at Mr Smartypants here. He knows how to read a pay stub and determine his taxes paid. Clearly we should let you be in charge.

        2. Who do you think creates the W-2 pay stub? The IRS doesn’t, do you think the pay stub fairy puts W-2’s under pillows. Read my post above about the number of people who don’t work for corporations and have to make their own W-2

        3. Dude, the fucking IRS falsifies shit all the time, and most of them don’t know shit about the law or tax code. My friend has had to deal with those assholes year after year because they keep sending him tax bills for shit he does not owe. He has fought against them several times and pointed out laws and tax codes to show that they are full of shit. So yes, the IRS is incompetent and will falsify your forms.

        4. That the government is going to purposefully falsify my W2 info on my return so I pay more

          No malice necessary. Incompetence will do just fine. Considering that the IRS help line dispenses incorrect advice roughly 50% of the time, there’s no reason to have faith in their ability to prepare tax returns correctly and fairly.

        5. will cause a reckoning for any politician or civil servant idiotic enough to be involved in such an easily verifiable scandal.

          Loi Lerner. John Koskinen. The dog ate my hard drive. Now, I’ll take the fifth.

    4. Making taxes easier to do is a no-brainer for government.

      The crux just sailed over your noggin.

      ‘Simplification’ to bureaucrats is any tactic that greases the skids whereupon the money flows unquestioned and unresistant from your wallet.

      When Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wish to make taxes ‘simpler’ this is their methodology; government exists as a moral and unquestioned constant imbued with lofty purpose to perpetually engineer the optimal and seamless acquisition of citizen wealth.

      Beneath-the-radar routes of cash-amassing lie between you and the state. Citizen stupor, apathy, and limp disregard over this transfer is a triumph for statists.

    5. I don’t itemize either but the software I use still manages to point out ways to save that I never knew about. Do you think the Feds are going to do that?

      1. It didn’t take a genius to code TurboTax. I could write you the same shit with a year of my life and not be charging the government $30 a user to free tax return. So yeah, I think they easily would and could if such a law got bipartisan support and oversight. And would save us a lot of money at the expense of some coders who have already gotten rich off our absurd need to make doing taxes more difficult. And I wouldn’t have to transcribe my W2, I could just do a quick number check at a glance. Done and done.

        1. Do it than. Create one and only charge $15 dollars.
          Have you actually looked at the tax code? You seem to think it’s sooooo easy. Go read it smarty pants.

          Oh and why are you using Turbo Tax? IRS lets you feel an EZ 1040 for free. Go for it.

          By the way, you don’t have to type your W2 info in Turbo Tax. Just Federal Id and it will import it. Wow, saved you like 5 minutes.

    6. Oh, and if I disagree with the government’s calculation? Yeah, they’ll just fix that lickety-split, they will!

      1. No. you will have to just do the same thing we already have to do. File an irritating tax return. But we already do that don’t we. Hey, if such a thing passes, and despite no evidence it would be the case, you’re correct that there would be wide-spread, genuine flaws (not people needing to itemize who should know better, but screwing people who have a dependent or three and otherwise take a standard deduction), then I’d agree. No evidence other than irrational belief that government can’t do anything correctly. Would be a nice clear test case, as this is something that should be extremely easy to implement without glitches.

        1. Given the number of things that the government has fucked up just in my lifetime, I’d hardly call my belief “irrational”. I don’t suppose you noticed any of those things; perhaps that’s how you’ve maintained your touching childlike faith in the government.

    7. Over 30% of people itemize, so it’s hardly a small group. And there are tons of other credits and deductions regularly taken by ordinary people that require information the IRS doesn’t get from a third party, i.e. the EITC, the child tax credit, the dependent care credit, the savers credit, etc. These are generally aimed a middle and low income people, and the IRS couldn’t include them on the pre-prepared return since they don’t know if the people qualify. And those are the folks least likely to know that they could save money by adding those credits. Basically, you just want to let the government screw poor people that aren’t savvy.

    8. I may not itemize all the time because the standard deduction is almost always more than I would get through itemization, but I always have additional forms to fill out since I also work for myself. And no, the IRS couldn’t keep track of that for me.

  22. Standard-issue socialism; compelled to flee objective analysis of state performance at the citizen level by cloaking their fucking terminal approach to governing.

    Individual citizens hold organic rights to interpret, realize, and then support or disagree with the actions of the state. The perpetual disregard for this core value is the cancer continually lurking to strike governing elites at the root of their political philosophies, thereby rotating in yet another cycle of dismay, turmoil, and potential collapse.

  23. Yeah. No. I don’t want the government preparing my tax returns. In fact I don’t want the government demanding that I compile tax returns in the first place.

  24. I know exactly how much of my income goes to the fed, social security, medicare, and my state via the income tax (not as easy to know with sales tax, would have to compile my bank statements).

    Maybe you know or maybe you don’t. FICA (social security) and Medicare need matching funds from your employer up to a limit around $100K. I really don’t think most workers understand that. Run your own business for a year and that will sink in. I don’t have a problem with either of these social safety net programs, but like many taxes, the full cost is purposefully hidden, and that is wrong.

    Many years ago I took a ride on the merry-go-round with joe from lowell about this. My assertion: the employer is not paying those matching taxes, the employee is. joe’s assertion: employers are rich and they are paying the matching taxes out of income they would have spent frivolously.

    1. A lot of conservatives look at Denmark and it’s 60% tax rate and shake their heads. But with all our hidden taxes and overlapping tax districts, are we really so much further behind? Total federal + total state + total local + all hidden shit + sales tax + gas tax + all excises + property tax + obamacare “tax” + etc + etc. What is the actual tax burden of the average Dane versus average American? It’s really hard to know for sure. But it ain’t 28-ish% for Americans, that’s for damned sure.

      The Bible says 10% goes to God. The government should never get more than God. So anything more than a 9% flat tax to fund all government, national, state, and local, is sinful. Literally sinful.

      1. I doubt that Denmark’s 60% rate on income is the only thing imposed. In fact, they also impose heavy taxes on cars and fuel. They probably impose property taxes, VAT, sales taxes, and a slew of others.

  25. How would the IRS prepare even a minimally accurate return? Sure, they know my wages, interest, dividends, etc. from W-2s and 1099s, but (other than from my own tax returns), they don’t know who I’m married to, who my dependents are, whether they live with me, how much I gave to charity, how much I paid in real estate taxes, whether I’m blind, or a million other things that are relevant to preparing a half-way adequate tax return. They might be able to guess at some of this information or get some of it reported to them, but it would create a massively larger collection operation than the one they already run and it would still be woefully incomplete.

    1. So basically, they’ll just tax you at your rate with only the standard deduction (if at all). No other deductions will be considered, except those already noted on forms turned into the IRS. And just hope and pray their systems are accurate, all forms are properly filled out, etc.

      1. I don’t know even know how they’d know if two people should be on a joint return. They’d need marriage and divorce records, which they might be able to get, but I’m pretty sure they don’t get now. That would be quite an enterprise since a lot of jurisdictions still keep these in paper form in a file room in the county courthouse.

  26. So the IRS just sends us a bill? Let me be a bit contrarian here for a bit: This might be a good thing! Imagine if the taxpayer got a monthly bill from the IRS that itemized government spending. ITEMIZED. BILL. It would certainly go a long ways towards connecting taxation to government spending in the mind of the taxpayer.

    1. Brandybuck: Hello, IRS? I’d like to ask about a mistake on my bill.
      IRS Agent: We’re the government, sir. We don’t make mistakes.
      B: Well on page 13, section 47 it says…
      I: Are you going to pay the bill?
      B: But there’s an err…
      I: It’s a yes or no question, sir.
      B: I’d really like to speak…
      I: I’ll take that as a no. Thank you for calling.

      1. That battering-ram crashing through your front door must mean “help” has arrived.

        1. Don’t forget, they are armed with M16s.

  27. Great article but I guess I’d like to see more about what is involved with what these two statists are proposing. Anyone care to elaborate or pass on a link that might help better explain what they’re plotting?

  28. Are we talking about the same IRS that targeted political opponents just a few years ago? Oh, sorry sir, I see that you gave money to the Other TEAM. No refund for you…

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  30. for crying out loud!

    Can’t we just wipe out the entire thing and have a consumption tax like the FairTax or some other plan?

    I hate the idiocy of 85% of those in office.

    Rarely is it ever about the people and the constitution. Always some angle with a deal cut or compromise from one side to the other to buy votes.

    Those ass-holes took an oath that most of them violate constantly.

    Just about nothing that the people can do. Even when you get people in their that are about smaller government and more freedoms their are just not enough of them and their voices and votes are negated by the overwhelming majority of ass-wipes.

    1. Can’t we just wipe out the entire thing and have a consumption tax like the FairTax or some other plan?

      Please god, no.

      1. Even though it would interfere with your social justice (or because of it), please god, yes.

  31. Frankly, I don’t understand why Americans just turn over their hard-earned money to a government that doesn’t do a damn thing for us meager citizens while letting multi-national corporations either dodge taxes altogether or pay far less than they owe. It’s not the citizens that our government representatives listen to, that privilege is exclusive only to those with limitless pockets who contribute to election campaigns.

    The government spends our tax dollars on wasteful programs, a vast majority of which funds black budgeted defense spending that we’re not allowed even to learn how much money gets allocated or what the nature of those projects entails. Meanwhile, millions of people are about to lose their health coverage, not to mention those who are currently without coverage. Education sucks and our children will continue to suffer the consequences of this throughout their lifetimes. Climate change, the most perilous tragedy humankind has ever faced has failed to get the attention & serious weight it deserves from our leaders. Instead of moving forward with additional research, planning out crisis response & mediation, and pushing an aggressive clean energy and environmental policies, our elected officials are racing off in the opposite direction.

    1. You made a wrong turn at slate. And don’t forget your tinfoil hat on the way out. The federal government spends 4 times as much on welfare as it does defense. Medicaid pisses away over $400BB a year for “coverage” that provides no statistically significant improvement in health outcomes. And your “clean” energy is just a bunch of cronyism to pay off Al Gore and Steyer and other greenatics who have absolutely no understanding of either science or economics.

      1. You beat me to it. I like your newsletter and what to subscribe

    2. “Frankly, I don’t understand why Americans just turn over their hard-earned money to a government that doesn’t do a damn thing for us meager citizens while letting multi-national corporations either dodge taxes altogether or pay far less than they owe.”

      Let’s see, where does the money to pay those taxes come from? Why, the CUSTOMERS!
      So, our new lefty twit is proposing we tax ourselves even more, but do it using companies as intermediate tax collectors.
      Lefties are nothing if not dense.

      1. Wesley Snipes used to sound just like you.

  32. I believe the law already requires “the Secretary” to figure your taxes. The “voluntary” part comes if you want to claim deductions that “the Secretary” doesn’t know about. In that case, you can fill out your own return and send it in if you wish.

    The problem with Sanders’ and Warren’s proposal is that “the Secretary” will calculate everyone’s tax higher than if individuals “voluntarily” do their own taxes.

    This illustrates why the income tax system is evil. it effectively forces everyone to give up not only their treasure, but their privacy and their labor (time) as well.

  33. This would be a disaster for people whose income varies from year to year.
    Year 1. Make $100,000 selling widgets. Owe $30,000 in income tax.
    Year 2. Widget market tanks. Sell only $20K worth.
    Government functionary hasn’t heard about the failing widget market. Assumes you made $100K just like the previous year. Sends you bill for 28K. You go broke on accountants, lawyers and your own time convincing them you only made $20K and therefore only owe $6K this year.
    Year 3: Government starts sending you quarterly bills for $7K, even though market further tanked and you only made $10K last year.

  34. The idea has merit if you want to please low information taxpayers… of which there are many.

    At the lower half, there usually is one right answer for the 1040. About 70% take the standard deduction which sidesteps much complexity (ObamaCare is a monstrous exception).

    Why not eliminate the H&R Block type tax preparer and make PART of the world more efficient?

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  36. I wish the article went into more detail about how this would actually work. I assume the system would be somewhat like the ReadyReturn pilot program tried a few years back at the state level, where all the information the government already has on you – W2s, 1099s, etc. would be prefilled-in and mailed you and then you would add in all the other info – deductions etc. and send it back in. Seems like there could be a good idea here. After all, we don’t pay our monthly Visa bill by adding up all our receipts from purchases and services and then sending it in – we let the credit card company figure it out and then pushback if there are any errors.

    The Planet Money podcast had an interesting episode recently about this:
    http://www.npr.org/sections/mo…..0-tax-hero

  37. RE: Don’t Let Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Kill Tax Day
    It’s the one time of the year taxpayers are confronted with just how much of their earnings are captured by the government.

    “Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), think that is one time too many. They want the Internal Revenue Service to prepare tax returns on behalf of taxpayers instead of leaving it as an individual responsibility.”

    Unbelievable.
    Even for Senator Pocahontas and Comrade Bernie.
    Let the IRS do my taxes?
    I don’t think so.
    I’m perfectly capable of doing my own taxes.
    What next?
    Let the Agriculture Department do my eating for me?

  38. I have to agree with Sanders for once. Time wasted doing tax returns is a huge hidden tax on the economy and the happiness and well being of Americans. The government already knows 100 percent of the money I earn, and 99.5 percent of my deductions (state income tax, mortgage interest paid, etc.). In the rare cases where I make a mistake in my filing, they send me a letter with the correction.

    People seeing how much they pay once a year (if they don’t look at their pay stubs twice a month) has done nothing to rein in federal spending. Why not do away with colossal waste that is tax preparation?

  39. Simpler way. Provide a breakdown by the cause their tax dollar supports.

    http://bit.ly/2n3DZ3G

    Then ask them to exercise their choice as to where it should go.

  40. I stand with Bernie on this one. Too many special days. Besides, someone who is acquiring his 3rd home after paying 13% fed tax (beneath the 2nd lowest tax bracket) on his $174,000 income in 2014 might want to keep a low profile. The IRS only has 82,000 employees.

  41. “Tax Day”? That sounds like a day that would be an occasion for celebration for Bernie and Fauxcahontas. They could carve pumpkins into effigies of The Great Tax Collector, or dance around the great Tax Pole singing praises to Big Brother.

  42. This is a 100% true story.
    In 2000 I told my liberal, sister, who was a teacher in Gwinnett County, GA, she should vote GOP so she wouldn’t have to pay so much income tax.
    She replied, “I don’t care about income tax because I DON’T PAY ANY TAXES!!”
    I said, “What do you mean? Of course you do!”
    She said, “No. I always get a refund, and if I do pay it’s usually only about $20.”

    Dear Lord Tiny Baby Jesus.

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