WASHINGTON -- Junk the current tax code. Eliminate the Internal Revenue Service. Create a tax system that is fair to everyone and encourages investment, saving and entrepreneurial capitalism.
Such is the plan of the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform, created with private funds at the behest of Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
For more than 50 years we have been subsidizing behaviors we once discouraged, such as sloth and indolence, irresponsibility, unaccountability and sexual promiscuity. At the same time we've penalized things we once encouraged, such as marriage, hard FTC work, entrepreneurial risk-taking and innovation. We have done this in our social mores, but more conspicuously in our tax laws.
Noting that the present system is "beyond repair," the commission, chaired by Jack Kemp, called for its replacement with a simplified tax system comprising a single low rate that taxes income only once with a general personal exemption and full deductibility of payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare).
The commission offers the philosophy that government does not create opportunity; citizens do. Government is not the engine of economic growth. What taxpayers earn belongs to them. Money is not an asset on loan from the government. The government gets its power from the people.
Far from the class-warfare lingo of giving "tax breaks to the rich" the commission believes its plan will double the rate of economic growth, creating jobs, launching new businesses and bringing in sufficient revenue to maintain those things government ought to do while failed government programs are ended.
The commission did something rare in modern times. Rather than talking to Americans, it listened to them. And it got an earful from taxpayers who believe the tax code harms the American dream.
"Over the years," notes the commission, "Americans have surrendered more and more of their freedom to higher taxes. The result has not been to enhance economic security or to close the gulf between rich and poor. Instead it has led to fewer jobs, slow economic growth, diminished hope and opportunity and erosion of trust and confidence in government, and an ebbing of the American spirit of enterprise."
The tax code is a staggering 7 million words long. It includes such imbecilities as this definition for the little human creature we call a child: "(A) IN GENERAL -- The term 'qualifying child' means, with respect to any taxpayer for any taxable year, an individual -- (i) who bears a relationship to the taxpayer described in paragraph (B), (ii) except as provided in subparagraph (B) (iii), who has the same principal place of abode as the taxpayer for more than one-half of such taxable year, (iii) who meets the age requirements of subparagraph (C), and (iv) with respect to whom the taxpayer meets the identification requirements of subparagraph (d)."
Is that clear?
In 1909, the New York Times editorialized against the first income tax and predicted, "When men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it."
The tax commission has a plan to cure it. It is easy to understand and should be read by every American. It will allow citizens the opportunity to win, consistent with their abilities and desire to work. For a free copy of "Unleashing American's Potential," write to the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform at 1133 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington DC 20036, clearly listing your name and address.
Unlike the tax code, you'll understand this.
5) Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.