The Tax Burden: Lift It, Don't Shift It!

Published in the Rocky Mountain News on April 30, 1998


In the wake of Jeff Jacoby’s superlative anti-tax column of April 11, let me suggest that Congress repeal the federal income tax altogether and replace it with nothing.

The two most popular alternatives to our current system would be less intrusive, but would also raise taxes for many people. A flat tax may well eliminate the deductions that low-income people currently enjoy. A national sales tax would hit hardest those with lower incomes, as they spend more of their incomes on retail purchases.

Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) is sponsoring legislation that would end the income tax effective December 31, 2001, whether or not an alternative is in place. Although seems willing to embrace a substitute for our current system, he at least seems willing to force the issue.

In the absence of the federal income tax, Uncle Sam would still have plenty of revenue. Only 38 percent of federal revenues come from the income tax. One only has to go back 11 years, to 1987, to when the federal budget was 38 percent smaller than it is now. During this time, no necessary programs have been added.

Defense and other constitutionally authorized programs consume less than a quarter of the federal budget. We could repeal the income tax and still fund the government we need. This immediate increase in disposable personal income would effectuate a transfer to the private sector of numerous functions that Washington, D.C. currently performs. The private sector would handle these functions far more effectively.

If someone picks your pocket, it matters not which pocket they pick, or which one of their hands picks it. What matters is that you are forcibly deprived of the fruits of your labor. If America is at all the “land of the free," we should be able to muster widespread support for repealing the income tax altogether. Perhaps our rallying cry could be, “The tax burden: Lift it, don’t shift it!”

Douglas F. Newman

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