Your letters: Flat tax the only answer to a broken tax code
Last week's editorial by Steve Schulz, titled "Taxes on rich have been going down, not up" was interesting. Steve supported the title by listing the top tax rates, both state and federal, on the "rich" from 1998 to 2010. He also wrote, "For the rest of us, property taxes and other regressive taxes (meaning they fall disproportionately on the less-well-off) have gone up." If the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes then who is paying for the 51 percent of the "rest of us" that pay no income tax at all? And who is paying for the earned income tax credit that pays 30 percent of "the rest of us" thousands more than we paid in? And who is subsidizing the property taxes that would be even higher for the "rest of us" if those subsidies didn't exist? You may think at this point that I am disagreeing with Mr. Schulz. Actually I found his point valid and accurate.
The point he made about the "effective tax rate" being lower for the rich and point I made about the taxes that the "rest of us" do not pay actually go together. The current federal tax system is so complicated that experts disagree on its length. Estimates of its length range from a low 3.5 million words to a high of 5.6 million words. On house.gov the term "seven times larger than the Bible" is used. The Minnesota tax code is a bit less but just about as difficult to navigate. Both federal and state tax codes consist of a tax here and a tax return there and an exemption here and a loop hole there and a special interest break here, etc. With this kind of tax system no one feels that they are being treated fairly because it is impossible to figure out who is being punished, who is benefiting and who is a crook. At the same time one government department is trying to make you, the voter, smile by putting money in your shirt pocket with things like the earned income tax credit, another department is picking your back pocket with things like increased regressive taxes to try to make special interest groups smile.
With tax breaks for the rich and tax returns that have not even been paid in and a government on a spending spree is it any wonder we are in debt? Both sides of this "tax the rich more -- tax the rich less" argument are missing the point. The more complicated the tax system the more games government and big business (many times one in the same) can play with our minds and our money. As the old saying goes, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with (a 3-5 million word tax code)."
Both sides of the argument would not have an argument if we had a flat tax. This goes with income and sales tax both state and federal. The rich make more the rich pay more. The rich buy more the rich pay more. I'm sure some people would still feel the desire to covet their neighbor's money because their neighbor has more, but greed and jealousy are human flaws that will never be eliminated. I'm sure there will be some flaws with a flat tax system as no system made by imperfect beings could possibly be perfect. Many cannot accept the fact that life is not fair. Others will not accept the fact that just as every welfare case is not a dead beat, not all rich people are crooks who got rich by stealing from the "rest of us." But a flat tax code could be written with a lot less than 3-5 million words and would leave a lot less room for blame and deceit.