Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hyman Goes AWOL

For someone who’s against amnesty for undocumented immigrants, Mark Hyman has an odd affinity for people who dodge taxes. At least that’s the gist of his recent editorial lambasting a bipartisan congressional study that suggests several ways of maximizing tax revenue.

According to the government, there is a yearly shortfall of over 300 billion dollars in tax revenues. That is, the government ends up being shorted roughly a third of a trillion dollars by taxpayers through non-payment, abuse of loopholes, and finding unintended tax shelters to avoid contributing to the well-being of the nation. Senators Grassley and Baucus thought it might be a good idea to see if we could do something about this, and their study suggests a number of ways the tax code could be simplified, tax loopholes closed, and tax collecting made easier (particularly for self-employed persons). But for Hyman, this is the government trying to take more of “your” money.

But it’s not. It’s only taking “your” money if you’re one of the people who doesn’t pay your taxes or uses every trick in the book to avoid paying your fair share. The vast majority of Americans do pay their taxes. This study has nothing to do with them. In fact, the study is meant to make things easier for those who play by the rules. Think of it: if dead-beat tax dodgers paid their fair share, that would be more than 300 billion that could either be spent on education, homeland security, etc., or that could be given back to those who pay their taxes. The tax cheaters are not cheating the IRS or “the government”; they’re cheating us.

Of course, Hyman puts in a call for a labor tax or a sales tax (euphemistically called “a flat tax” and a “consumption” tax) as a way to make everyone pay their “fair share.” But they won’t. Both of those taxes put the burden of tax paying on working and middle class families (e.g., 20% of $25,000 is a much bigger bite than 20% of $250,000). This seems to matter little to Hyman, however, who’s on the side of those who want to go AWOL on one of the minimal duties we as citizens have: to contribute to the well-being of the nation now and for future generations.

And that's The Counterpoint.


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