Published in The Arizona Daily Star on June 4, 1994
Kenneth Smalley's letter to the editor, "Put an end to taxation" (May 29), in which he proposes doing away with the federal income tax, prompted the following observations.
1. In the absence of the federal income tax, Uncle Sam would still have plenty of revenue. Only about a third of federal revenues come from the income tax. One has to go back only eight years, to 1986, to a time when the federal budget was a third smaller than it is now. During this time, no necessary programs have been added.
2. Politicians like to blame the federal deficit on the government's failure to collect enough taxes. One of the most common statist myths about the 1980s is that cuts in marginal tax rates slowed the growth of federal revenues. The truth is that, while federal revenues doubled during the Reagan and Bush years, federal revenues far more than doubled.
3. The federal tax system is a voluntary one (I'm not making this up.). In her "Note from the Commissioner" in this year's federal income tax instructions, Internal Revenue Service Chairman Margaret Milner Richardson thanks us "for making this nation's tax system the most effective system of voluntary compliance in the world." If you want to find out just how "voluntary" the tax system is, just try not paying taxes some time.
4. Richardson also writes that her goal is for "each person (to pay) what he or she properly owes to support the vital functions of our government." Only about a quarter of federal outlays go for such programs as defense and law enforcement. Most of the rest of federal spending goes for programs that have no constitutional mandate. Eliminating the income tax would spark unbelievable private sector prosperity. Such prosperity would do far more to, as the preamble of the United States Constitution states, "promote the general welfare" than government ever could.
5. One of candidate Clinton's campaign slogans was "Putting People First." For years, various oppressed groups have asserted their inherent humanity by reminding us that they are "people, too." Perhaps representative of America's largest oppressed group, the taxpayers, should march on Washington and remind President Clinton that taxpayers are people, too!
Douglas F. Newman
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