Death is Still Certain; Taxes—Who Knows?

The famous quote: “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Today taxes are still certain. It’s the kind of taxes and who pays them that appear up for grabs.

Few would disagree with the complaint in The Economist (April 1, 2017) that “the most striking thing about tax in America is its complexity.” Much of the complexity, the article suggests, is because of the number of tax breaks. The U.S. congress has passed multitudes over the years, many of which benefit the wealthy.

The chief source of income for the average American is the wage he or she earns for a job. One criticism of the U.S. tax system is that it tends to tax this kind of income rather than wealth. The wealthy can afford tax advice to take advantage of the myriad—and legal—tax breaks.

This is not to say that the wealthy should be criminalized. Many wealthy individuals donate to worthy causes and use their money to create jobs. However, if tax reform is to take place, it should result in less burden on the working and middle classes and a fairer share paid by the wealthy.

If the Trump administration found healthcare to be more complicated than expected, tax reform promises to be even more difficult. Like healthcare, tax reform should be fair to ordinary Americans. The U.S. deficit does not need to increase because more tax breaks are given to wealthy citizens.

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