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William Mayberry

Federal Taxation: A History of Mismanagement and the Need for Responsible Reform
Tax and taxation, two words in the American lexicon that have annual hatred for most
citizens from January to April 15th. In recent years however, they have become more than just
annual demons. They are becoming words that have the ability to influence Presidential
elections, control industry, and determine how American citizens spend their money. Taxes, no
matter how convoluted or hated, are necessary to run successful society. They are as old as
commerce, and link back to some of the greatest civilizations in history. The Egyptians
employed an army of scribes to enforce taxation, and they were an important bureaucracy in the
Egyptian empire. In Taxes for Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization
by Charles Adams he quotes a papyrus scroll from 1200 B.C., The scribe is ahead of everyone.
He who works in writing is not taxed. Mark it well.1 The basis of this paper is not to examine
taxation over the course of human history. Rather, to confirm the importance of taxes and
demonstrate why it is necessary to reform the United States income tax code to make its
structure more transparent, ubiquitous, and enforceable through some form of major responsible
reform.
In order for this means to reach an end I must start at the beginning of taxation in the United
States. To do this a question must be answered: What are taxes paid for? Of course the answer
to this question is ever-changing, so the story must start with the birth of the United States. Jens
P. Jensen asserts that taxes have gone back as far as 1634 when the British Commonwealth
instituted a property tax based on your ability to pay, which was judged by representatives of the

1 Charles Adams, Taxes for Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of
Civilization, (Lanham, MD: Madison Books, 2001), 1.

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crown.2 In many cases until The Seven Years War (also known as The French-Indian War) tariffs
and taxes levied on the colonists were accepted, as many colonists still identified themselves as
loyal subjects of the crown. The Seven Years war was incredibly taxing on the crown in time,
resources, and manpower; all of which cost money. What resulted was Parliament instituting a
number of different taxes on their most wealthy colony and the people who had just bared the
brunt of much of the war themselves. The first of the post-war moves was enforcement of
previously unenforced collection of duties on sugar and molasses. Next Parliament issued the
Currency Act followed by the Stamp Act. The latter was repealed due to its impossibility to
collect. New taxes introduced under the Townshend Act and passage of a duty-free status by
Parliament to the East India Company would lead to unrest and boycotts of imported goods from
England, culminating with the Boston Tea Party. What would follow would be the deepening of
wounds, The Boston Massacre, and the adoption by all of the colonies of the Declaration of
Independence.3 Interesting to note is that the colonists werent so much disgusted about the
implementation of new rules or taxes. Rather, they were angry with the arbitrary enforcement of
rules across the empire that seemed to be heavy handed or remarkably unfair to the colonists.
Their anger towards the arbitrary nature of the crowns rules and tariffs is remarkably similar to
the outrage that is demonstrated in contemporary America at the loophole policies and their
iniquitous nature.
What would follow would be the Articles of the Confederation. As a document designed to keep
what little centralized government existed weak the drafters drew on colonial distaste for
2 Jens P. Jensen, Property Taxes in the United States, (Chicago, IL: University of
Chicago Press: 1931), 27.
3 Parliamentary taxation of colonies, international trade, and the American
Revolution, 17631775, U.S. Department of State: Office of the Historian,
https://history.state.gov/milestones/1750-1775/parliamentary-taxation.

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taxation, and left the ability to tax citizens to the state and not the a central government.
Regardless of taxation the Articles of Confederation left the federal government generically weak
and unable to conduct the business it needed to run a nation of states. What resulted was a much
stronger U.S. Constitution. Article I Sec. VIII of the constitution states, The Congress shall
have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for
the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises
shall be uniform throughout the United States;.4 This gave Congress the power to impose tariffs
and collect excise taxes. At the time if forbade Congress from taxing every citizen because
direct or poll taxes had to be accomplished by apportionment, and indirect taxes must be
executed uniformly. One such indirect tax was an excise on distilled spirits. Many people
objected to the U.S. government instructing there to be such a tax collected, and the Whiskey
Rebellion began. The rebellion culminated with President Washington instructing a militia of
13,000 men to restore peace and protect the government in Pennsylvania. Although nobody was
killed and no personal property was damaged the result demonstrated that the Federal
government did indeed have the power to impose taxes and would do so by force if need be. In
many cases the Federal government was able to pay its bills through various excise taxes and
tariffs.5 This remained true for about 70 years.
With the shots fired on Fort Sumter in 1860 the dissolution of the Union became official.
The loss of revenue produced by the states in the Confederacy coupled with the cost burden to
the Federal government to conduct such a large scale war would lead to the first income tax in
U.S. history. The Revenue Act of 1861 allowed the government to collect a 3% tax on all
4 U.S. Constitution. Art. I Sec. XIII.
5 History of the US Tax System, Almanac of Policy Issues, last modified in 2003,
http://www.policyalmanac.org/economic/archive/tax_history.shtml.

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personal incomes above $800. The following year the first progressive tax was instituted in
the United States. The new law levied 3% on earnings until $10,000 and 5% after that. The
standards with which to collect the new tax also included standard deductions and some
exemptions. It would be the beginning of the U.S. Tax Code.6 Almost immediately after the war
ended the government went back to collecting excises and the income tax lapsed, and was
eventually repealed in 1872. The income tax returned upon passage of the Revenue Act of 1894.
The interesting thing is that the goal of the bill was to reduce tariffs in an effort to boost the
American economy at home. The bill consisted of lowering tariffs on certain raw goods and
materials whilst replacing the lost revenue with a 2% tax on families with an income greater than
$4,000 and on certain corporations. At this time less than 5% of American families even made
enough to have to pay the tax.
Although the idea of corporate personhood was defined in Trustees of Dartmouth
College v. Woodward in 1819; it wasnt until 1886 (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific
Railroad) and 1888 (Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania) that the concept
became solidified and entrenched. The legal concept of corporate personhood has been upheld
over and over again since this ruling. This turning point would have a lasting impact on almost
every facet of American economics, domestic, and foreign policy. Corporations would be seen
in the eyes of the law as individual entities responsible only to the people that entity consists of
(shareholders), and as such were equal to the same protection under the law that individual
citizens were. This gave the corporation the ability to petition government the same as an
individual, and with respect to taxation opened the door to receiving certain tax incentives and
inclusions (although there would later be a separate corporate tax developed).
6 History of the US Tax System.

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Again there were certain concessions made for particular industries or organizations;
perhaps the most important of these being charitable organizations. In the documentary An
Inconvenient Tax, John O. Fox, a professor of taxation at Mount Holyoke College, points to this
period as the beginning of the modern loophole system and introduces the notion that this could
have been the beginning of lobbying in Washington to produce such loopholes. He points out
that the organizations involved with lobbying the politicians at this time were churches and
universities from across the country because much of their money, lest any grants, was the result
of donations from individuals. In many cases these individuals were the families and
organizations that the income tax was designed to effect. The result would be a roadmap for the
explosion of our tax code.7
Shortly after the passage of the Wilson-Gorman tariff of 1894 the law was challenged in
the courts; eventually coming before the Supreme Court in the case of Pollock v. Farmers Loan
& Trust Co. Under the provision of the tariff any gains or incomes made over $4,000. Farmers
Loan & Trust Co. informed their shareholders that they were not only objected to pay the tax, but
that they would inform the Treasury of who its shareholders were. Charles Pollock sued his
corporation so they wouldnt be able to pay the 2%. What resulted was a ruling by the Supreme
Court that the tax was unjust due to the nature of his income, being derived from an investment.
The court ruled that income derived from investments, real estate, and rental properties
inherently affect the object with which the tax is based; the outcome being that this is a direct tax
on the property in question. Direct taxes must be apportioned by the state, and as this could not
be accomplished the income in question could not be taxed.8 However, the same court case that
ruled against certain tax collections on incomes opened the door to an amendment allowing for
7 John O. Fox, An Inconvenient Tax, online movie, directed by Christopher Marshall.
2009. Lawrenceville, GA; Life Is My Movie Entertainment. Streamed via Hulu.

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the collection of income tax. The Court upheld the long standing idea that incomes were indirect
taxes through their opinion and definition of what a direct tax was. There was now a clear
distinction and legal precedent for the progressive reformers and the populist democrats to move
forward on enacting new legislation.
1907, Representative (D) Hull introduces a bill that would eventually work to become an
amendment for a national income tax. The following year the Democratic Party would adopt this
stance and add it to their official party platform. It is interesting to note that many modern
Democrats (and Republicans alike) are adamant about the need for a complete overhaul of the
tax system.9 Using the language of the Pollock ruling and after much debate as to what was
proper income to be taxed in accordance with the Constitution and what could be reasonably
passed through Congress and upheld by the Court System the 16th Amendment was brought
before the Congress in 1909. Over the next 4 years it would go through the extensive ratification
process that the Constitution demands, and in 1913 after proper ratification the 16th Amendment
was added to the constitution and created the first universal income tax in the United States.
Opponents of the contemporary income tax would also argue that this the creation of what would
become the most bloated bureaucracy in American government. The Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) had to be created in order to create the tax code and levy its mandates as well as enforce
and collect the revenue derived from the tax code, lastly it is the duty of the IRS to audit those
individuals the government thinks is not paying their just share of the tax burden. Immediately
8 "POLLOCK v. FARMERS' LOAN & TRUST CO.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent
College of Law, accessed May 5, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/18511900/1894/1894_893.
9 Erik M. Jensen, The Taxing Power, the Sixteenth Amendment, and the Meaning of
'Incomes', TaxHistory.org, October 4, 2002,
http://www.taxhistory.org/thp/readings.nsf/ArtWeb/736DB4705B4EE21D85256F2B00
548FA3?OpenDocument.

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following the 16th Amendment Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1913 which gave the Federal
Government the legal right to actually tax the citizenry and collect such taxes. In the court case
Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co. the Supreme Court used its ruling in the Pollock case
and the language therein with the 16th Amendment to overturn the previous constitutional
requirement that income taxes must be apportioned. Since they did not have to be then they
could be levied to all making it a viable law. Brushaber also tried to argue based on the notion of
due process mentioned in the Article V of the Constitution, but the court said that argument
was also invalid because the power to tax was conferred by the Constitution to the Federal
Government.10
The Revenue Act of 1913 not only established the first modern income tax, but also
established the tax as a progressive system. Meaning that there are brackets of income and the
tax burden associated with each bracket is proportionate to the amount earned within that
bracket. In 1913 the lowest tax bracket was 1% for earners making $0-$20,000, and the highest
marginal tax rate was 7% for earners making over $500,000; there were 7 total different tax
brackets. In 1917 the bracket system would expand to 21 total brackets and peak in 1932 at 55
different brackets.11 It is important to note that these were likely necessary increases due to the
U.S. eminent involvement in World War I and the need to raise and outfit an Army, and during
the Great Depression it became evident that Americans need only be taxed for that which they
earned. The number of brackets again today are at 7 different brackets. The span of income that
these brackets encompass are again a point of high contention for many opponents of the current
10 Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 240, U.S., 1 (1916).
11 U.S. Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History, 1862-2013 (Nominal and
Inflation-Adjusted Brackets), The Tax Foundation, Last updated October 17, 2013,
http://taxfoundation.org/article/us-federal-individual-income-tax-rates-history-19132013-nominal-and-inflation-adjusted-brackets.

William Mayberry

tax code. It should also be noted that because of the notion of corporate personhood
corporations were included in all of the aforementioned income tax institutions.
Since its institution the U.S. tax code has increased the highest marginal tax brackets in
times of national crisis. During World War I it reached as high as 77%, in the Great Depression
it rose to 79%, World War II and immediate post war it was as high as 94%.12 Over the last 25
years the top tax rates have stayed relatively stable between 32%-36%.13 The Corporate tax rate
reached its highest mark during the post-WWII economy and has undergone steady decline
since. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has noted that
over the last couple years the most other developed countries have worked to lower their
corporate tax rates to attract foreign business development and investment. It has worked to put
the United States at the bottom of the list The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate out of
economically developed countries according to the OECD at 39.1%.14
Alexis de Tocqueville made an interesting observation about the U.S. population that
describes her peoples values which in turn define a dynamic dichotomy of the views towards the
tax code. He says, Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.15
The U.S. society developed itself largely on the Protestant work ethic; an individualistic notion
that hard work is the only way to achieve success. Perhaps the most important virtue in
12 U.S. Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History, 1862-2013.
13 U.S. Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History, 1862-2013.
14 Table II.1. Corporate Income Tax Rate, Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development, Last updated 2015, http://stats.oecd.org//Index.aspx?
QueryId=58204.
15 Alexis de Tocqueville and Thomas Bender, Democracy in America (New York, NY:
1981).

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American society is the idea of Liberty. Over time this idea has manifested itself both
individually and on a nationalist level. Religion has been incredibly important throughout the
countrys history, and is what created our moralistic nature. The result is an experience that
binds the population to work hard alone, but help one another in times of help. The universal
hatred of income taxes stems from the individualistic ideal, but at the same time there is an
understanding that larger forces must take precedent to help those in need, provide protection,
and develop programs that benefit the masses. The result is a Federal bureaucratic system that is
both loved and loathed as a necessary evil funded begrudgingly by government revenue collected
from the total society paid for individually.
The reason for the existence of the American income tax is for revenue production, as we
have already talked about. A government should not spend more than it can generate in revenue.
As explained, for the most part, the United States was able to accomplish this task using various
tariffs and excise taxes, save a period of time during and after the Civil War in which there was
an income tax. As the population of the United States increased so did the number and size of
the agencies necessary to administer the governments functions and responsibilities. In 1789
with the creation of the new Federal government by the Constitution only four cabinet
departments existed, but as the nation grew so too did its responsibilities domestic and abroad.
The result? With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 the total number
of cabinet departments totals 15, each with its own variations of government corporations,
independent agencies, and regulatory agencies totaling more than an estimated 2,000 agencies.
Initially revenue need only be generated to provide certain protections by the central government
such as protection of industry, trade, and military protection. With the explosion of
manufacturing and population during the industrial revolution it became increasingly evident that

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the growth in population would necessitate a growth in government, and that this government
would need more revenue than it simply generated through tariffs and various excise taxes. In
1913 the courts gave the government what it needed, an income tax taken from its people to
support its people. In their paper On the Size and Growth of Government, Thomas A. Garrett
and Russell M. Rhine conclude with an investigation of the relationship between the explosion in
size of government and passage of the 16th Amendment as shown in their Figure 1.16
The increased revenue from a combination of payroll, income, capital gains, estate,
corporate, tariff, and excise taxes fund the Federal government. Without them we could not
administer the necessary duties to maintain the American ideal of the common good. These
taxes provide for national defense, certain educational and social services, Social Security
pension, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs services, transportation, environmental protection
and wildlife maintenance, and administration of the government to include government
employee pensions. In relation to the tax code and the need for overhaul both sides of the aisle

16 Garrett and Rhine.

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have identified reasons for it due to the imbalance in social welfare programs and the future
inability to pay for certain services that have been understood as a guarantee. For instance, the
Democrats have been lobbying for reform in an attempt to expand the revenue derived for taxes
in order to help pay for and expand programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.17
In contrast the Republicans have argued for tax reform to fund the government and pay down on
the national debt. Their reform plans have, however, called for an end to certain welfare
programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and a reduction in the size of government (resulting
in less salaries, benefits, and pensions paid for by taxpayers).18 Nevertheless, the institution of a
national income tax, while necessary for the common good, created the ability for the Federal
government to increase to the size it encompasses today. Interestingly enough, this bloat in
revenue and spending by the expanding omnipresent bureaucracy inadvertently increased the
importance of the income tax and the ever changing system which provides it.
It is important to understand the distinction of the American tax system. That is, it is the
most progressive tax system in the world, most of the tax burden is shouldered by the top
earners, and the U.S. maintains the highest corporate tax of any developed nation. However, it is
the introduction of exclusions, deductions, and lobbyists that have created an incredibly
complicated system of loopholes. According to Wolters Kluwer, an information services
company who compiled historical information on the expansion of the tax code, the Federal Tax
Code now encompasses a total of roughly 74,000 pages.19 What this equates to is the ability to
17 Democratic Party Platform, On the Issues, Copyright 1999-2012, accessed May 8,
2015, http://www.ontheissues.org/democratic_party.htm.
18 Republican Party Platform, On the Issues, Copyright 1999-2012, accessed May 8,
2015, http://www.ontheissues.org/republican_party.htm.
19 Federal Tax Law Keeps Piling Up, Wolters Kluwer, CCH, Published 2013,
http://www.cch.com/taxlawpileup.pdf.

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pay little to now taxes as long as you have the time, money, or resources necessary to break
down the tax code and find all of the loopholes. It has been argued that many of the countrys
top earners and corporations, while theoretically taxed the highest, do not pay their fair share.
Moreover, just because they shoulder the actual tax burden does not necessarily suggest that they
pay what they are supposed to.20
The loophole system is not just abused by the highest earners. It is indicative of a system
that has been degraded by rules over time. Not only the addition of loopholes, but the
manipulation of the tax code to coerce the public to spend as politicians see fit. In an article for
on HuffingtonPost.com New York Representative Charles Rangel (D) blatantly states, The tax
code is also used to promote behavior that we as a nation support, such as home ownership or
charitable contributions.21 The income tax should be a tax for revenue for the Federal
government, and not a means to compel Americans to spend or save in a certain way.
Manipulation of the tax code usually includes lowering tax rates to influence spending. Many of
these manipulations come in the form of tax cuts and the development of rules that allow
individuals, families, and corporations alike to pay and, more importantly, not pay certain taxes.
This practice began in the 1920s with Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. He was responsible
for the first great set of tax cuts that were designed to spur growth. These would be reversed
during the Great Depression.22 These cuts again reappeared in the early 1960s during the
Kennedy administration. After years of increased taxes Kennedy decided to institute a number
20 An Inconvenient Tax
21 Charles Rangel, Tax Deduction for Students Now Will Pay Dividends, The
Huffington Post, April 12, 2013, accessed May 8, 2015.
22 The Income Tax Arrives, Tax History Museum, 1901-1932, Updated 2015,
http://www.taxhistory.org/www/website.nsf/Web/THM1901?OpenDocument.

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of tax reforms again used to spur growth. This tactic worked and business, investment, and
wealth exploded until the stagnation in the late 1970s. Again in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan
took the oath of office he vowed to get a sweeping overhaul of the tax code passed. He did, and
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was passed by Congress. Reagans goal was to make the code,
Fair and simpler for most Americans, this is a tax code designed to take us into a future of
technological invention and economic achievement, one that will keep America competitive and
growing into the 21st century." While it did lower some of the heavier marginal tax rates on the
highest earners, lower taxes overall, it also expanded the scope of the nations largest
bureaucracy and expanded their role in taxation by implementing changes in accounting. Again
in the early 2000s President George W. Bush passed the tax cuts that he saw as necessary to
increase American business and foreign investment. Although President Obama has campaigned
on tax reform legislation many of his policies have done little to change the current structure. As
the amount of money has increased in campaign spending, campaign finance rules changed, and
an ever present inclusion of biased media in the American mainstream; there has been an
increased influence of money in Washington. This increase has not only galvanized the
complicated nature of the current tax structure, but it has also influenced which laws get passed
thus developing loopholes for the entities they serve.23
What is becoming increasing laughable for the average American citizen is how much
both parties and their politicians campaign each general election on a platform view of taxes
based on reform. Of course when we dive deeper into what individuals from both parties say it
is clear that their desire is to maintain the entrenchment of the complicated code. Moreover, their
argument is based on the protections of the middle class. However, due to the loopholes,
23 An Inconvenient Tax

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deductions, and credits there is no transparency. There is no guarantee that two families making
the exact same amount of money will pay the same amount of taxes. To the contrary, it is almost
a guarantee that both families due to the aforementioned will pay a different amount in taxes.
What does this mean? Every single person (with exception of the poor and those who dont pay
taxes) in the United States benefits from some sort of different loophole.24 This is another bullet
in the politicians proverbial chamber to tax reform. It must be understood that due to these
deductions and their inconsistencies; a politician cannot move to eliminate or change them
because it would affect someone negatively without a doubt. As John Oliver said on the Daily
Show in a segment cleverly titled Dont Mess with Taxes, The problem is that every single
part of the tax code is in there because someone wanted it to be. And if you, as a politician, even
considered taking one out; its backers will make you pay. So youve got to think twice before
going up against Big Hedge Fund, Big Oil, or Big Chicken Poop.25 While the Daily Show
is by no means a relevant news source it moves to highlight the nearly impossible task of
bipartisan reform. In a show that is routinely biased in its coverage of both politics and the
media that reports on it, there was a savoy move to use sound bites from all of the mainstream
media news outlets regardless of bias. It was a clever exhibition of the impossible nature of tax
reform in relation to the average American and their desire for the politicians that represent
them to restructure the code. Professor Fox posits:
You need a strong President, my guess is that it would have to be in the second, the second term.
Secondly you need leaders within the party who say in the back rooms Look, this is serious we
need to get together, and provide the Congressional leadership. And third, there needs to be some

24 An Inconvenient Tax
25 Dont Mess with Taxes, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Performed by John
Oliver (2013; New York, NY: Comedy Central Television, 2013), online streaming.

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sort of grassroots movement. Most great movements; they come from the grassroots. So you
need all of those elements.26

As the tax system has become decreasingly transparent, fair, and enforceable there have
been numerous alternatives presented. Each with their own proponents and opponents equally
adamant about their own views:

Fair Tax: Advocates have argued that it would create a baseline voucher system instead of automatic
exemptions and deductions for individuals and families. It would institute a flat marginal tax rate that
would be paid on all new goods. It increases transparency and eliminates all loopholes and deductions;
while creating a lower cost more enforceable system thus (in theory) abolishing the IRS. Detractors have
indicated that it makes it more possible for the wealthy to purchase goods internationally; avoiding any
excess tax beyond the voucher. They would argue most importantly that the tax would act as a regressive

tax.27
Simplified Income Tax: A little vaguer in nature, but basically breaks down the tax code and works to
eliminate many of the loopholes and unnecessary deductions in the current structure in effect increasing

transparency and fairness, while promoting thrift and putting an emphasis on savings. 28
Armey-Shelby Flat Tax: Institutes a standard flat tax at 17% with a standard deduction based on
household size. Anything over that allotted would be taxed at a percentage based on the difference in
earnings and standard deduction. Supporters claim that it would eliminate the need for any other taxes and
be completely transparent. Critics have noted that because of income inequality the very rich would benefit
most, and the less well-to-do (especially the middle class) would shoulder the burden. In essence making it
a stronger regressive tax.29

26 John O. Fox, An Inconvenient Tax.


27 FairTax.org
28 An Inconvenient Tax.
29 Info Sheet 2, Internal Revenue Service, accessed May 8,
2015http://apps.irs.gov/app/understandingTaxes/whys/thm03/les04/media/is2_thm0
3_les04.pdf.

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Progressive Consumption Tax: Savings (deposits made, investments made, debts paid, etc.) are totaled
and consumption (savings withdrawals, investment proceeds, borrowing, etc.) subtracted. The
consumption would then be taxed on a progressive scale (households who spend more are taxed more).
Promoters believe this will encourage thrift and saving. Challengers say that it would change the way our
economy operates fundamentally and be incredibly detrimental to domestic business, investment, and

production.30
Value Added Tax: The European based tax system which taxes every step in the manufacture of a product
at a calculated rate increasing throughout the process with the final absorbed tax being paid by the
consumer. Proponents say it boosts compliance and there is greater transparency, but opponents use the
numbers developed by the OECD to highlight that noncompliance numbers arent much different than
current non-compliance estimates. There are certain exemptions or reductions made making it less
efficient, and it is politically very difficult to sell in the United States.31

In addition to these tax theory alternatives there are other various economic philosophies that
have been argued could be applied. Basically the simple understanding is that there are
numerous factors at work in the application of some sort of solution. Issues involved will
include, among other elements, derailing the monopolistic nature of campaign contributions and
lobbies, creating a bipartisan approach, convincing the American public to adopt something new,
and having it be legal within the constraints of the Constitution.
The object of this survey of the United States Tax Code was to demonstrate the convoluted
nature of the tax system that drives the strongest economy in the world. To look at the historic
importance of not only the code itself, but the values and morals that have shaped it. Through its
development the tax code has taken on a monstrous embodiment of its own complete with its
30 Alan D. Viard, Move to a Progressive Consumption Tax, CATO Online Forum,
November 2014, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.cato.org/publications/catoonline-forum/move-progressive-consumption-tax.
31 The pros and cons of VAT: A last resort, The Economist, November 19, 2009,
accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.economist.com/node/14903016.

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own impressive bureaucracy to administer its objective. It was born out of the American belief
system. Values such as liberty, faith, and the conviction that the public must preserve the greater
common good has created a necessary evil that exposes its diminutive head every spring. And
because it is necessary it must be encompassing for all of the populous, but in doing so the
creators and manipulators of the tax system have developed a system whose administration and
implementation seem as arbitrary as the flight of a dragon fly. Whether this complex, confusing,
capricious creation is the result of malice or an attempt to do right by the people is up for debate.
It cannot be denied that through years of additions of specific rules enforceable to some, but not
all, are now entrenched in a political system that is as much subject to its subjects as it is to the
money the subjects feed it; will take judicious and thorough work by Americas best and
brightest to establish a system that is fair for everyone. After all, the U.S. tax system funds a
government of the people, by the people, for the people.32 There must be a uniform standard
that can produce the revenue necessary for the U.S. government to pay its bills and honor its
economic commitments; it must embody Justice for All33, because our current system of
inequity is justice for none.

32 Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln Online, November 19,


1863, accessed May 8, 2015,
http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm.
33 Francis Bellamy, The Pledge of Allegiance, (1892), USHistory.org, accessed May
8, 2015, http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm.