Friday, April 13, 2007


As kitchen tables nearly buckle this week beneath receipts, pay stubs, and calculators, Americans must be grateful that tax returns are due only annually. April 17, this year’s deadline, reacquaints Americans with our humongous tax-filing burden. It also suggests a voluntary flat tax as the exit from this morass.

The U.S. tax code should join the Panama Canal and the Channel Tunnel as a wonder of the modern world. Though something only an accountant’s mother could love, it is truly stunning -- grotesquely so.

At 67,204 pages, the tax code and its accompanying regulations and Internal Revenue Service rulings stretch just longer than 71 Gideon Bibles stacked side by side. Even a devout atheist would prefer to read the Old Testament -- 71 times. The Washington-based Tax Foundation counts 1,638 different forms on the IRS’ webpage. Among the more novel: “Casualties and Thefts” (Form 4684), “Suspicious Activity Report – Casinos and Card Clubs” (Form 403), and “Tax for Children Under Age 18 with Investment Income of More Than $1,700” (Form 8615).

Form 1040, of course, is the IRS’ greatest hit. A typical taxpayer needs 37.8 hours to finish this basic tax return.

“Pity the self-employed,” David Keating of the National Taxpayers Union wrote last year. “The IRS estimates they have to spend over 80 hours slaving at their computers to do their taxes, enough to rob them of the equivalent of a two-week paid vacation.”

Among 28 federal agencies the White House studied in its “Information Collection Budget of the United States government,” completing IRS paperwork in 2006 took 6.65 billion hours, fully 3.5 times the 1.89 billion hours needed to fill forms for the U.S. Treasury (sans IRS), the other 14 Cabinet departments, and 13 major independent agencies combined -- including the red-tape-spewing Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission. The Tax Foundation calculates that IRS paperwork-compliance cost Americans $265.1 billion in 2005. This was essentially a 22% surcharge atop each tax dollar confiscated.

Even worse, nobody knows what all this means. USA Today recently picked four tax professionals to create returns for the imaginary Bailey family. They generated four different amounts for taxes owed. In 1998, Money magazine asked 46 tax pros to file for another hypothetical household. These experts gave Money 46 different tax-liability figures, varying from $34,240 to $68,912.

As NTU’s Keating concluded: “The Tax Code is so convoluted that no one inside or outside the IRS understands it.”

There is a better way.

Americans deserve a voluntary flat tax. Those Americans who love this gargantuan tax code, its multiple rates, and baroque intricacies, should be free to keep filing form after form, if that makes them happy. Those who prefer a flat rate with few if any deductions, should be free to choose a postcard that would ask one’s name, address, income, and a simple calculation for, say, 17% thereof.

Politically, a voluntary flat tax would let issue-starved Republicans and conservatives avoid a wrestling match with Democrats and liberals over keeping or scrapping the charitable or home-mortgage deductions. Instead, the right can argue for giving Americans the freedom to select between two available systems. The sales slogan is simple: “It’s your tax. It’s your choice.” Let the left argue against granting Americans that option. The right can win that fight.

Next year, Utahns will choose between either a traditional, six-bracket tax (from 2.3% to 6.98%) with exemptions and write-offs, or a simple 5.35% flat tax without deductions.

The Beehive State will join Estonia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, all of whose economies the flat tax has energized. On January 1, 2001, Russia jettisoned its three-bracket system and its 30% top rate on incomes above $5,000. Instead, it embraced a 13% flat-rate tax.

“Before the flat tax, most salaries were paid as cash under the table,” says Yuri Mamchur, director of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute’s Real Russia Project. “That almost has disappeared.”

“The low flat rate contributed to the decline in capital flight [and] improved taxpayer compliance,” according to Hoover Institution economist Alvin Rabushka. Tax evasion has gone the way of the Gulag. Since the flat tax, revenues have swelled 128% after inflation.

If the flat tax is good enough for the former Evil Empire, it’s good enough to offer America’s embattled taxpayers.


Well, another prediction down the tubes. Yesterday I said that CBS would fire Don Imus after his show today. Well, they didn't wait. Couldn't stand up to the pressure. The fired him yesterday afternoon.

When the history of this whole affair is written we'll see that the biggest mistake Imus made, other than uttering his ridiculous comment in the first place, was to add to Al Sharpton's aura of legitimacy by groveling before him on his radio show. Sharpton is a race hustler. That's it. One issue ... race .. and exploiting the sense of black victimization for his personal aggrandizement. I absolutely believe that Al Sharpton is a man with blood on his hands. His role in instigating racial violence in the Freddie's Fashion Mart incident and the Crown Heights riots has been largely ignored by the media. So here we have the spectacle of the management of CBS falling to their knees to lick the books of a man who's words very well may have helped to send innocent men to their graves. You're really looking good, CBS.

This is only the beginning. Sure, Imus is a liberal. You can measure the depth of his vapidity through his endorsement of John Kerry for president. Some of you have asked how in the world I can say that this is the beginning of an all-out push to damage or destroy conservative talk radio when it was a liberal who bit the dust. Simple. Imus was sacrificed. A "proof of concept" exercise, if you will. Now the left knows that race hustler Al Sharpton can move large corporate mountains with his racially charged dialogue ... so it's time to use him to go after the real nemesis -- talk radio.

Sharpton is feeling very impressed with himself, I'm sure. Yesterday he told an anxiously awaiting media that; "It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves."

Yup .. you heard him. "What is permitted in terms of the airwaves." Big Al is just the man to decide. Somewhere soon Sharpton will sit down with some cronies to review the talk radio landscape to figure out who needs to be the next to go. In the meantime he'll give some lip service to the cause of cleaning up rap lyrics, but know this ... talk radio is the target. Conservative talk radio. Liberals can't succeed at the medium ... so it must be destroyed.

Silver lining? I think there well might be. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of people -- maybe much more -- are going to be tuning in to their local talk stations to see if the situation is really as hideous as Sharpton and his sycophants allege. Leftist websites are going to drive even more people our way. What will these people hear? They'll hear logical and fact-based arguments against the anti-individual, anti-liberty cult of liberalism. They'll hear ideas and concepts presented that they haven't previously been exposed. They'll hear information about Democrat schemes and dreams in Washington that will make their blood curdle.

Here's just one example: Read the mainstream newspapers and listen to liberal talking heads on television and you'll soon generate a burning hatred of those evil people who constitute the mysterious "richest Americans." Listen to talk radio and you'll soon learn that a huge percentage of these people vilified for their income levels are actually the small businessmen and women of America .. and that they are considered to be rich because all of their business as well as personal income is reported on their personal income tax returns. You'll learn that these people -- the people targeted for huge tax increases by the left -- actually provide between 70% and 80% of all jobs in America ... perhaps your job. And then you're going to start wondering what a tax increase might do to them ... and to the people who work for them.

This, of course, is not healthy for liberals. There recourse is to shut down these channels of dangerous information. Sharpton is showing them the way.

Just a few more thoughts .... I want to make sure to give Sharpton and his goons as much to go over as possible.

You would have thought that "Rev." Sharpton and Imus would have gotten along famously! After all, they have the same hairdresser. (Ohhhhh. That's not a racist statement, is it? I mean ... after all ... one of them is black and one of them is white.)

I see that Obama had to chime in and call for Imus to be fired. A little late to the party, weren't you Barack? I guess he just couldn't sit back and watch that fool Sharpton suck all of the oxygen out Barackobamamania.

Rutgers Coach Vivian Stringer says it's time to "go forward and let the healing process begin." Healing process? What healing process? I'm not buying any of this nonsense that the Rutgers woman's basketball team was egregiously hurt by Imus' comments. Tennessee wins the championship and Rutgers gets all the publicity. It wasn't the Tennessee girl that were allowed to sit before the national TV cameras a few days ago. And how many of you can name the Tennessee coach? Let's face it .. the only people really, genuinely hurt in this episode are those connected with the Imus show who are now going to lose their jobs. Maybe those were the people Stringer was talking about with here silly "let the healing begin" comment. (Uh oh. Stringer is black ... I think ... and I just called her comment "silly." Do you think I should resign?)