The next time you go to a movie, look around the auditorium and consider how many of those in the theater are paying anything in federal income taxes; I bet you’d be surprised.

If there was one thing I thought I’d never say it’s that we aren’t taxed enough.  The mantra of the Republican party has been we aren’t taxed too little, we spend too much.  God help me but I’m going to agree with the later and disagree with the former.

Why would a died-in-the-wool conservative such as myself believe we aren’t taxed enough?  My first concern is the use of the term we; “we” suggests all of us.  It’s a fact that many of us do pay too much in taxes.  What most don’t understand is that 51% of our society pays no federal income taxes.  You read that right, 51% pay absolutely nothing.  From a personal income tax perspective having the bottom 51% pay nothing while the other 49% has to carry the entire burden seems rather inequitable.  Of course, it is.

When you dig a little deeper you find that the average income taxes paid at the very top of the income spectrum is approximately 18%.  Consider that for a moment.  If less than half pay anything and the top tier is averaging 18%, who do you think is being screwed?

Somewhere back in the recesses of the liberal minds came the idea of making the tax code progressive.  This means those at the lowest income level would pay the least percent and those at the highest would pay the most.  Hasn’t quite worked out that way.  Sure the lowest income earners are paying nothing, yet the top end aren’t paying the most (percentage wise) individually.  Of course the 18% paid at the top of the income spectrum isn’t chicken feed.  If you’re making money at the level of a Forbes or a Walton that 18% represents many millions of dollars of income tax, but as a percent of income it doesn’t compare well to a family of four making $150,000 paying 28% of their income in taxes.

Equality in our tax code was lost long ago in favor of special interest groups.  Everyone with an horse in the race lobbied their respective legislator and got a deduction, credit or offset inserted for perpetuity into our 20,000 page tax code.  Taxes are neither predictable nor equitable.  Face it, those with the money to buy themselves a deal do, and those that cannot get the short end of the stick; in our political system those with gold make the rules.

I wrote an article back in April entitled “It’s time for the IRS to go” specifically addressing the need for a more equitable tax code that neither punished people for being successful or hammered the lower income into oblivion.  The idea that anyone should pay zero in taxes is absurd.  If you have income, in nearly every state you pay taxes every time you fill up your tank or make a purchase at a store.  I could go on and on in this story as to why I favor the Fair Tax over a Flat Tax, but if you’re interested in getting the comparison I’ll refer you to my article of April 22nd.  Needless to say most everyone would agree that those at the very bottom of the income scale simply don’t have enough financial strength to endure additional government taxation, but 51%?  Let’s get serious.  The Fair Tax addresses the lowest income earners through a pre-bate of taxes to eliminate that burden on the lower class.

My preference would be that no one pays any income tax.  That was the intention of our founders.  The depressing fact is that short of the Tea Party gaining control over 60% of the congress we’re going to see social welfare pour from the Treasury for the duration of our lifetimes; not to mention the huge interest payments on our past borrowing frenzies.

I have no problem with 20% of my income going to the federal government as long as it is well spent, and that in itself is a grand illusion.  But as long as my 20% goes in, and everyone else’s 20% goes in, regardless of my opinion of spending in Washington my inability to buy myself a lobbyist won’t penalize me or my family any more of less than anyone us.  If you’re going to beat us with the stick of a bloated government, let us all feel the sting equally.

Our tax code is an unmanageable, inequitable and ponderous representation of the corrupt nature of our government.  It’s only one of the many reasons that the American public finds the operation of our government so unpalatable.  If anyone within the Beltway wanted to grasp why the executive and legislative branches rank just above Charles Manson in popularity they need look no farther than the Department of Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and their own spending habits.  When billionaires complain they don’t pay enough, and the average Joe or Jane pays too much, we’re clearly overdue for a re-evaluation and restructuring of how we fund government.

It’s not enough to say Washington spends too much.  It does and that’s a given.  We must drastically scale back the lavish and unproductive way our government functions.  Let’s just be sure that we’re both shrinking the size of government and building a equitable and balanced means to fund it.

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