Flat Tax–Not so fast

This morning, Presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, defended his proposal for a flat-rate income tax. This is certainly a move in the right direction and far better than the current byzantine personal income tax code. I would, however, much prefer replacing the current income tax with a national sales tax. For two reasons. One, it makes everyone a taxpayer. Right now, only about 50% of us pay any income taxes, while the rest of us skate. Under a national sales tax, even a kid who buys a pack of gum at a convenience store is a taxpayer. True, a sales tax is regressive. We could remedy that by exempting food and clothing. Secondly, the income tax return itself is a perverse invasion of privacy. It reveals nearly everything about us to the government—our names, the names of our spouses and children, where we live, what we do for a living, our investments, the real estate we own, where our kids go to school and day-care, how much and to whom we donate to charity, and on and on.

As far as I’m concerned, this information is none of their business, and I have nothing to hide. The government is only entitled to the same information you would share with a complete stranger in a grocery line. A national sales tax is completely anonymous. If the government wants to know your business, make them work for it.  The information in a 1040 should require a court order.

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