Taxes for All

Instapundit (peace be upon him) is finally spreading his wings and trying to get some exposure on the internet. He’s in USA Today with an article about how everybody should pay taxes:

According to a national poll last week, 79% of Americans think that all Americans should pay income tax, regardless of their incomes. That includes 85% of Republicans and 83% of independents. Even Democrats agree, by an overwhelming majority: 71%. Politicians should take note: these are huge margins. 

These Americans understand instinctively what a recent report from the Tax Foundation said: “Aside from the revenue impact of not having 58 million Americans pay income taxes, economists worry about the social and political effects of having so many people disconnected from the cost of government — a phenomenon known as fiscal illusion. The concern is that when people perceive the cost of government to be cheaper than it really is, they will demand ever more government benefits because they either don’t feel the cost directly or believe that others will be paying those costs. Indeed,when one takes into account those who do not file, about half of all households pay no federal income tax, making the situation particularly worrisome in a majority-rule democracy.” 


The point isn’t whether people are “freeloaders” who don’t pay any taxes. It’s whether people have “skin in the game.”

That, I think is an excellent idea. I would only add one thing: skin in the game is great, but people have to be aware of how much skin they have in the game.

To that end, if I was Emperor of America for Ten Minutes and could only issue one decree, I would eliminate income tax withholding. Not only should everyone have skin in the game, they should have to write a check for it and watch that money leave their bank account.

I believe that having to actually cut a check to the tax man would generate acute interest in government spending decisions. In fact, I think this would only have to happen one time before the people marched on Washington and burned the whole place to the ground.

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