Friday, December 16, 2011

Uncomplicate the Taxes

High sovereign debt implies increase in taxes in the near future. However, Barack Obama, who wanted to raise taxes, is facing stiff resistance from the Republicans. So also

There are specific problems with our tax system 
First, it is very difficult to calculate the best tax rate or the lowest tax one can pay through the system. Second, taxes have unintended consequences. They sometimes promote or prevent marriages, home purchases, bigger cars, etc. Government has no business interfering with the lives of taxpayers in such a way. Third, taxes are unfair. The rich often pay lower taxes than the poor. Fourth, there is no way to measure return on taxes just as we measure return on capital. Finally taxes are high because they are paying for over-regulation by government or they are paying for large governments.

Better simplify the tax system
It might be better if tax was simplified into just one tax, either on income or consumption. Incomes should not be classified according to their sources. All incoming cash flow should be treated as income. There should be no part exemption what so ever. Government can define a level of income below which tax rate is nil. Above that income, taxes should be at one single rate. The only flexibility in policy will be to determine what rate should be.

The common argument is about the beneficial taxes on cigarettes. Those are not taxes. Those are penalties imposed on cigarette manufacturers for damaging lives of people. Those should be recovered as penalties and directed towards treatment of heart and lung diseases.

Tax filing has been made easy. What is difficult is to figure how much tax
 we have to pay. That has to be easier. We need to protect individuals from complexity in taxes. Just like the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) is trying to simplify credit card agreements, it should also simplify tax calculations.