In the late 19th century, Justice Stephen J. Field noted in an opinion: “If the provisions of the Constitution can be set aside by an Act of Congress, where is the course of usurpation to end? The present assault upon capital is but the beginning. It will be but the stepping-stone to others, larger and more sweeping, till our political contests will become a war of the poor against the rich; a war growing in intensity and bitterness.”
Indeed. For most of American history, taxes were levied primarily on consumption, rather than income, and for good reason. In The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton argued, “It is a signal advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their own nature a security against excess.”
All that changed in 1913, however, when the central government started taxing income. At that time, federal taxes were equal to 3% of GDP and the entire tax code was two pages. Now taxes are in excess of 20% of GDP and the tax code is more than 46,000 pages (including 481 separate tax forms). Additionally, taxpayers will spend a cumulative 6.5 billion hours complying with that code, and due to its complexity, more than half of taxpayers will rely on “professional preparation,” costing them more than $200 billion.
Yes, flat-tax or federal sales-tax me now. The only reasons we didn’t pay through the nose this year was unemployment on my part, having a nice little deduction in toddler form, and paying the bank so one day we can own the home we occupy.
I especially enjoyed Alexander’s ripping of FDR in his column. Greatest President of the Twentieth Century? For whom? The Communists?posted on April 17, 2005 12:37 AM