You may have noticed there’s a scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has acknowledged the targeting of conservative groups applying for IRS Code 501(c) status. This strikes at the heart of the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Regardless of political leanings, certainly we can agree that the
misuse of such a powerful and feared bureaucracy is unacceptable. To paraphrase Shakespeare: Something is rotten on the Potomac.
While the involvement of the White House is only suspected at this time, it would not be the first time a presidential administration employed the IRS as a weapon of political retribution. Use of the IRS to punish or harass political opponents and critics occurred during the administrations of several presidents including Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush. And let’s not neglect to mention the culpability of members of Congress from both parties.
Seeking favors is big business in Washington and the tax code is the biggest facilitator. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that the total lobbying expenditures in the nation’s capital in 2012 was $3.3 billion and the number of active registered lobbyists was 12,398.
Tax lobbyists are the most successful and powerful. The tax code is largely written by highly paid lobbyists who represent well-heeled special interests. More than a billion dollars a year is spent lobbying for breaks in the tax code. Their ranks are constantly replenished by staffers from the tax writing committees and ex-members of Congress who earn six figure incomes or more. Can we expect public interest to take precedence over self-interest when there are such lucrative opportunities?
If you ask your senator or representative about their position on the income tax, the most frequent answer is: “Reform is needed. We must simplify the codes.” That’s lip service — a “mom and apple pie” answer. The tax codes are power. They are filled with favors the senator or congressperson may have voted for. Those favors provide “K Street,” synonymous with the lobbying industry, re-election funding. Actions speak the truth. If you check the records of legislators you will most have made no effort to end the ills of the income tax.
You say: If the voting public does not protest against such an archaic, corrupted and unfair tax system, why blame politicians? I agree. It is a mystery to me why the voting public is so complacent and tolerant of such a burdensome system that infringes on personal freedoms. The reality of the income tax is aptly described by Frank Chodorov in his book “The Income Tax — Root of all Evil,” published in 1950. In it Chodorov writes: “The government says to the citizen: Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right, but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide.”
My protest is not against taxation, but against the wrong kind of taxation. We “veered off the tracks” when the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 giving Congress the power to tax income. For good health to be restored to a person afflicted with cancer, the root cause must be removed. The root cause of the IRS scandals is the 100-year-old income tax experiment. It is time to return to the form of taxation our founders intended.
There is legislation pending in Congress that will end the tax on productivity and the life of the IRS and its powers to harass and punish hard working Americans. That legislation is known as the “Fair Tax” (HR 25 and S122). The Fair Tax is the most extensively researched project on taxation ever accomplished.
Rather than taxing the income of productive citizens who work, save and invest, the Fair Tax taxes consumption. It is a simple retail sales tax on spending — with basic living essentials tax-free. It is largely collected by the states which have more than 60 years’ experience in sales taxation.
Please inform Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young that there is a solution to our economic woes. It’s called the Fair Tax. For more information visit: www.fairtax.org. If you understand it, you will demand it.
Wiley Brooks is the Alaska state director for Americans for Fair Taxation. He is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and a retired real estate broker.
He lives in Anchorage. He can be reached at email@example.com.