THREE (MODEST) TAX PROPOSALS: Time to Reduce the Drudgery of Annual Tax Time

Written by John DeGroff on April 17, 2015

Years ago, while reading a Robert A. Heinlein novel, I came across the concept of Four Universal Certainties.  According to Mr. Heinlein, they are:  Death, Taxes, Shaving, and The Common Cold. So, let’s talk about the last two first. 
Shaving is an option.  The Duck Dynasty guys have made that clear.  Beards are now in style.  Some guys can grow very abundant hair and some guys don’t.  I don’t have a beard, but I’m hairy enough that I’m not allowed on the furniture in the spring time. I’m not a metrosexual who wishes endure waxing just to get rid of the excess body fuzz. 
Women, at least the civilized ones, shave.  I suppose if a woman doesn’t shave, she’s either in a country where it’s the social norm, or she’s in a relationship with Big Foot.   Her choice, her option. 
The common cold can be avoided if you really make an effort to take care of yourself.  Do things like never leave the house and/or have any interaction with another human being, and you’ll be fine.  
Death…well, that’s definitely a Universal Certainty.  Shouldn’t even have to be discussed.  
That brings us to taxes.   It couldn’t be a more appropriate time of year to discuss this.  It’s the one issue, regardless of your personal political stripe, that holds everyone’s focus.  I’ve never met anyone who truthfully enjoys paying taxes.  To the useful idiots that say they’d gladly pay more, I’d like to ask what flavor kool-aide they’ve been drinking.   Even if you don’t have to pay in this year, you still have to endure the process of filing.  So, let’s start with the first proposal, an incremental flat tax.  
Right now, there are seven different bills in Congress that aim to bring the IRS under control.   I propose eliminating the IRS altogether since it’s actually a division of the Treasury.   Let’s try this:   income tax would be deducted from each individual worker’s pay check each pay period by his or her employer and on a monthly basis sent directly into Treasury.  No more April 15th filing and paperwork.  
This would mean a total realignment of the tax system.   A flat tax would therefore be a more logical and easier understood method to pay taxes.  A true flat tax is one tax rate (or percentage) applied to all income levels.   The current tax system includes interest, dividends and capital gains towards income.  One variation of a flat tax system taxes only income earned through wages and salary.  
Several European countries (such as Russia, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, the Netherlands and the Baltic States) have been using a flat tax system for some time.  In the U.S.  several states (Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Utah) already tax household income at a single rate.  
A flat tax of 15% has been discussed for a long time.  However, I personally have a problem with that percentage.  For a family making $25,000 or less, 15% is a sizable chunk.  For someone with a six or even seven figure income, 15% can easily be absorbed.  I favor an incremental flat tax rate based on income level.  
Here are my proposed rates for each corresponding income level: 
2.5%   for any worker 18 years old or younger, or for an adult working a part time job (less than 40 hours a week) 
5.0%   for full time employment, up to $100,000 
7.5%   $100,001 to $250,000 
10.0%  $250,001 to $500.000 
12.5.5  $500,001 to $1,000,000 
15%   $1,000,001 and up.  (This would be the highest individual tax rate.) 
(a part time job is always taxed at the lower rate, even if the worker also has a full time job) 
Since income taxes would be automatically deducted from pay and sent directly into Treasury, this would eliminate married couple filing status.  Each tax payer would be counted as single.  No more deductions would be allowed or taken, and the withholding tax would be eliminated.  Unfortunately, the Medicare and Social Security taxes would still be paid, as well as state and local taxes.   But, on the upside, this way everyone who works actually pays in, based on their income level.  It would be a way to eliminate the fact that 40% (or more) of the population doesn’t pay any income tax.   
Businesses would still have to file but since the cost of any business endeavor is high, the filing process would allow for all necessary and legally applicable deductions.  However, an incremental flat tax rate, starting at 10% and going no higher than 20% would then be implemented.  
Now, for the second proposal, which involves the military.  
I feel that one way to honor the service of men and women in uniform is through the tax code.  Here is the proposal (which could conceivably even be enacted now…):
25% reduction in all income taxes (federal, state and local) for anyone serving part time in a guard or reserve unit 
50% reduction for full time military stationed stateside 
75% reduction for full time military serving overseas 
100% reduction (or no more income tax, ever) for anyone who is serving or has served in a combat theater of operations anywhere in the world at any time.   
These reductions would kick in immediately upon release from service with an Honorable Discharge and would hold throughout the remainder of the veteran’s life.   Anyone who falsely claims military service for the sole purpose of avoiding income tax would be sentenced upon conviction to 20 years in federal prison plus a $100,000 fine.  
This brings us to the third proposal, which probably won’t be that well received.  I believe that a 1% federal sales tax should be imposed on all transactions.  Money raised through this tax would be used solely to pay down the national debt.  It would no doubt take an act of Congress for this to be implemented, but by doing so it would be plainly stated that the 1% sales tax revenue could never go toward any other purpose other than the national debt.   
If we ever get a Balanced Budget Amendment, everything mentioned here, especially the second and third proposals, should be included.  
Life is taxing enough on a good day, but I really believe we can simplify the grief paying taxes brings.   I’d love to hear some feedback on these proposals, but then again, your mileage may vary.   

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John DeGroff
John DeGroff is the original bass player for the Christian rock band Petra. He currently plays for the band GHF which is comprised of other original members from Petra. DeGroff has extensive experience as a freelance music journalist and newspaper reporter as well as an on-line music reviewer. He is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and lives in Warsaw, Indiana where he is employed as a care giver for mentally challenged adults.