The Flat Tax Essay Research Paper The

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The Flat Tax Essay, Research Paper The United States tax system is in complete disarray. Republicans and Democrats agree that the current tax code is complex, unfair, and costly. The income tax system is so complex; the IRS publishes 480 tax forms and 280 forms to explain the 480 forms (Armey 1). The main reason the tax system is so complex is because of the special preferences such as deductions and tax credits. Complexity in the current tax system forces Americans to spend 5.4 billion hours complying with the tax code, which is more time than it takes to manufacture every car, truck and van produced in the United States (Armey 1). Time is not the only thing that is lost with the current tax system; Americans also lose great deal of money complying with the tax code.

Resources that are currently wasted on record keeping, filing forms, learning the tax code, litigation, and tax avoidance. The cost of complying with the current tax code totals about $200 billion annually, or $700 for every man, woman, and child in America (Armey 1). The overwhelming consensus that the current tax system is inadequate has ignited the search for tax reform. There are numerous proposals for tax reform; one particular proposal brought forth by various conservatives is the idea of national flat rate income tax. The idea is to replace the current income tax with a single rate that everyone pays. This paper will take a close look at the concepts of the ?flat tax,? and look at the possible benefits and potential failings. Although there is a basic format to the flat

tax, there are multiple flat tax proposals that have been offered by conservatives. Along with critiquing the basic format of the flat tax, this paper will compare and contrast the different flat tax proposals. There is no doubt among Americans and politicians that there is need for tax reform, the flat tax and one of its proposals could possibly be the answer to tax reform. The American people are in the presence of the highest tax burden in American history; taxes represent a larger share of the U.S. economy than ever before (Armey 2). After World War II, the average family sent only about three percent of its income to Washington. The same family today gives 24 percent of its income to the federal tax collector (Mitchell 1, 9). Once state and local taxes are added to the

federal take, taxes make up the biggest slice of the average family?s budget. As Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation shows in Figure 1, the typical American family now pays more of its budget in taxes than it spends on food, clothing, transportation and shelter combined (Mitchell 1, 10). Policy makers have introduced a solution to the staggering proportion of taxes that Americans spend. The flat tax, based on an idea developed by Professors Robert Hall and Alvin Rabushka of Stanford University to create a fair, simple, and pro-growth tax system (Mitchell 1, 11). There are four basic criteria that make up a flat tax. First is a single low rate on taxable income, the baseline for taxable income would be raised to a certain amount dictated by a personal exemption. Second is

simplicity, all Americans would fill out the same postcard-sized form to pay their taxes. Third is the reduction or elimination of deductions, credits, and exemptions, depending on the different proposals. Last is the elimination of double taxation, the government will no longer be able to tax income saved or invested (Mitchell 1, 11). These four pillars of the flat tax make the proposed plan very appealing to many Americans, each proposal uses these pillars to try and create the most efficient flat tax. There are five flat tax proposals that have been proposed for legislation. The five flat tax proposals have been designed by: Rep Richard Armey (R-TX) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL); Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA); Steve Forbes; Sen. Phil Gramm; and Pat Buchanan. The Armey/Shelby flat