Alternative: National Sales Tax
Even more controversial than the flat tax is the idea of abolishing the federal income tax entirely by repealing the 16th amendment. In place of an income tax, some propose the use of a national sales tax. Former U.S. President William Clinton pointed out that one flaw with this system is that it leaves the government without a steady flow of income.
Alan Keyes, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, is one of the biggest supporters of doing away with a federal income tax. He believes that we could finance the government through sales taxes, tariffs and duties. Keyes has argued that a national sales tax would put more money back into the pockets of the consumers, letting them decide how to spend their own money. He says that the income tax should be replaced with the kind of taxes that people already pay. This plan would do away with the IRS and any need for a tax code.
Opponents have said that replacing the income tax with a national sales tax would put a heavy burden on the less wealthy, who buy a lot of the products that would be taxed. They say that in order for a national sales tax to be fair, it would have to be applied to the purchase of stocks and bonds in addition to consumer goods. Another problem facing a national sales tax is that it would probably double the current taxes on consumer goods, and could force local and state governments to initiate or increase state income taxes.
Taxes are a bitter subject in almost every country, and the United States has had a decidedly tumultuous relationship with the issue. America has one of the most complicated tax systems in the world, and it grows more complex every year. In the end, whether you agree with paying taxes or not, you probably have April 15 circled on your calendar, embedded in your brain and on your list of dreaded days.
For more information on taxes and related topics, check out the links on the next page.