Whatever the Fate of the Fair Tax Act, Congress Should Still Abolish the IRS
Watching a good idea enter the corridors of government is like dropping a seed into a desert: There’s so much potential there, with virtually no chance of taking root. So it is with a proposal in the House of Representatives to overhaul the tax system and, importantly, abolish the abusive and intrusive Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately, the very things that make that tax agency so widely despised by the public make it highly prized by politicians.
“Instead of adding 87,000 new agents to weaponize the IRS against small business owners and middle America, this bill will eliminate the need for the department entirely by simplifying the tax code with provisions that work for the American people and encourage growth and innovation,” Rep. Buddy Carter (R–Ga.) announced of his proposed Fair Tax Act. “Armed, unelected bureaucrats should not have more power over your paycheck than you do.”
Reason‘s Joe Lancaster already did a good job of breaking down the bill, which would swap our enormously complex income tax system for a national sales tax. There are tradeoffs in the idea, as is inherent in just about any policy shift. But one of its most attractive qualities is that, in discarding income taxes, it would get rid of the financial inquisitor that’s required by a system that monitors and takes a piece of everybody’s wages and salaries. That inquisitor is the IRS, which many Americans have good reason to fear and hate.
“The Internal Revenue Service was once again under fire on Capitol Hill Tuesday, as a Senate committee launched another round of hearings, this time focusing on alleged abuses of power inside the tax agency,” CNN reported back in 1998. “In the first of four days of testimony from taxpayers and agents, the Senate Finance Committee heard instances of the IRS stepping over the line, including stories of retaliation against whistleblowers and raids on taxpayers’ homes that may not have been justified. Some of the harshest criticism was aimed at the agency’s criminal investigation division, as witnesses complained that the investigators used excessive techniques and were out of control.”
The tax agency pulled in its horns, sort of, for some years after that. But government officials with a propensity for spending every dollar they can get their hands on and more constantly fret about closing the “tax gap” between the IRS’s actual take and what they might collect in a hypothetical world popula
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