Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Broadening the Tax Base

I feel that I'm a charitable fellow. I'm willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt. I even try to understand politicians and am sympathetic to the competing interests they must serve. Alas, my sympathies cannot extend to complete idiocy.

In the latest round of foolishness parts of the Republican Party are attempting to make the case that we need to broaden the tax base. They are upset that only 53% pay income tax. To quote Bachmann:
Part of the problem is today, only 53 percent pay any federal income tax at all; 47 percent pay nothing. We need to broaden the base so that everybody pays something.
I'm all about broadening the tax base. I believe that all citizens of any republic need to have skin in the game. The problem with this line is that the poor already pay a lot in taxes. They may not pay income tax, but they pay sales tax, payroll tax (what a crappy tax), gas tax, and a whole slew of other taxes.

It is this sloppiness of thinking that bothers me. The Republicans are obsessing over one part of the tax code and missing all the rest. We need tax reform in this country. Our tax code is inefficient, out of date, and harmful to our economy. But to do that we need to have an honest look at the whole tax pie. We can't just fight over marginal income tax rates or look at capital gains taxes, while ignoring payroll tax (oh how I loathe it), sales tax, and state taxes.


  1. I appreciate your post here, because I think this argument is lost in almost all the broad national tax conversations.
    We presume that income tax is the only tax that people incur. The reality is that all people who pay into the economy are paying taxes, contributing to the system, not freeloading.
    Or course we need to address the tax code, broadening the base, sure, but its a terrible omission to claim that the poor pay no taxes.

  2. exactly. that's why i get so worked up about this and other debates. people willfully ignore the whole debate to gain an edge.