A simpler tax code allows for a less intrusive and more focused government. Tax dollars coming from the sweat of the people should be considered sacred. Therefore, government should only use tax dollars for services that can’t be provided more efficiently by the market place, and only for those things which pertain to valid government services.
I have friends (Yeah, I know it surprises me too.) who insist on naively arguing about the efficiency of our government. It is simply a lost cause. What they fail to understand is a lesson I learned while employed as a Personnel Administrator by the Federal government. The principle consideration in governing this nation is equity, not efficiency. That is a major reason our national government fails to be as efficient as we would like it to be. It is why many services can be accomplished more efficiently by the market place than by our government (assuming of course that the government stays out of the way.) The logic is simple. If I give Uncle Sam a dollar to perform a service for me, it spends a substantial portion of that dollar paying itself to make sure that my dollar is spent in accordance with applicable regulations and in an equitable manner. This administrative bureaucracy costs a lot of money. In deciding how to tax the American people and what to spend our sacred tax dollars on, our government needs to take into consideration whether any given service can be provided more efficiently without them.
Another principle that needs to be applied in taxation comes from the past. When I was a young man there was a very common expression. It has various iterations such as: “Mind your own business” or, “None of your business.” By the way, that is good advice for all of us. Not only do we need to apply this philosophy to our contemporary social media heyday, but it also points directly to proper taxation. What is the business of government and is our government minding its own business? After all, “The essence of freedom is the proper limitation of government.” If you think about it, there are a great many things that our government spends our money on that falls outside their public mandate. Some examples might be: entertainment, regime change, abortion, miscellaneous social constructs, etc. If you put a little thought to it, I am willing to bet you can find several items that our government is engaged in that is simply superfluous and, quite frankly, none of their business.
Let me demonstrate how these two principles should be applied to taxes by a quick glance at some of the items on a standard 2016 1040 form.
Filing status. What business is my marital status to the U.S. government? None! It is simply a hold-over from discriminatory times when the state thought they had the right to approve our marriage! I say get the feds out of my personal life. After all, today this information is simply used to facilitate income redistribution. It allows the government to take money from single individuals and give it to married couples.
Exemptions. What business is it of the Uncle Sam whether I have children or other dependents. Once again, income redistribution. I understand the government’s concern for the welfare of families within our society but where is the equity in redistributing the funds of those without children to those that have chosen to have a large family? A worthy cause but in the end, it is “none of their business.”
The list goes on. Moving expenses, health savings account deduction, savings withdrawal, student loan interest, etc.
The entire form is a mess. It is a socialist process rewarding us for engaging in activities that the politicians want to promote, fomenting income redistribution or, simple pandering for votes. The net result is a document so complex it has spawned an entire industry of tax-preparation services. Services we pay for out of fear of serious legal and financially destructive errors.
All the deductions on an individual tax form should go away. The only exception is charitable contributions. This one deduction allows me to voluntarily lift a portion of the safety net our government rightly assumes a responsibility for. Besides, as discussed above, it is more efficient for us to care for the needy without the government when possible. Most of all, if we as a people give willingly, God will bless us both individually and as a nation. And oh, how we do need his blessings. Blessings which are often withheld when, charity is enforced by law rather than truly voluntary.
With true tax reform the 1040 form, for most of us should look like this:
1. How much did you earn and/or receive?
2. Subtract qualifying charitable contributions.
3. Taxable income.
4. What is your tax as necessary for appropriate government services?
5. Subtract withholdings.
6. Refund or owing.
7. How do you pay or where do you want the refund deposited?
Simple. The government can concentrate on governing. I can calculate my own taxes. The IRS becomes much smaller thereby requiring the government to collect less taxes. H&R Block can refocus their business to providing non-religious weddings as it is should no longer be the purview of a discriminatory government
True tax reform would help our government to become less intrusive, allows a certain amount of lost freedom to be restored, and help us to put “we the people” back in control. You see, everyone wins.
Well, maybe not everyone. Power hungry and despotic politicians would lose some ability to control my life and yours. Now that is a true governmental reformation.
(The tax reform currently under consideration, while not going this far, does accomplish a lot of these things and therefore has my enthusiastic support.)
Samuel Waen Jensen