PAMPHLETS FOR A BETTER HUMANKIND Addressing The Micro- And Macro-Problems Facing Humankind, (world events, social issues, prison reform, et. al.) And Providing Achievable Solutions; Going Where The Politically Correct Dare Not. (While the SOLUTION offered herein may not be a panacea, and may be provocative, it is offered as a positive step to correct the problem presented.)
TAXATION IN EXCESS, DE MINIMIS REPRESENTATION
David Scott Harrison, (c) 2009
Taxation without representation is subversive of free government, indeed, it is the antithesis of democracy.
America's war of independence was fought upon the rallying cry that taxation and representation are inseparable parts of a whole -- a truth monarchs of Great Britain refused to accept, and which politicians today blatantly ignore. Worse yet, Americans have become too comfortable and passive, and apathetic ("Men with full bellies do not run into the streets and rebel, and the fuller the belly, the less the inclination." (Author unknown.) towards their governments, which raise taxes every year, while simultaneously taking from the people any real say in how tax dollars are to be spent.
Those few in power have always taken from the masses who have no power. Regardless of what terms were used (favors, gifts, aids, direct levies, etc.), taxation has always been part of human societies, and those taxed often feared tax collectors more than their kings and lords! Legend holds that in the ninth century Lady Godiva rode naked through the streets of Coventry, England, to win relief for the people from the burdensome tax collection policies of her husband, Leofric. Egyptian hieroglyphics, circa 1630-40, tell us that taxes were paid in grain, livestock, oils, and other commodities. One surviving hieroglyphic tablet suggests that tax collectors punished peasants for not having paid their taxes on time. In 1660, and in response to the Roman's brutal taxation policy placed upon the people of the British Isles, Queen Boadicea decided to defy the Romans. To teach her a lesson, the Romans publicly flogged Queen Boadicea and raped her two daughters. Such horrible treatment only made Queen Boadicea more resolved to oppose the Romans. Queen Boadicea retaliated by leading her people in a bloody revolt, eventually killing approximately 70,000 Romans. In Colonial America the colonist were heavily taxed by the monarchs of Great Britain. For example, the Stamp Act of 1765 added taxes to newspapers, permits, playing cards and legal documents, and the Townsend Act of 1767 further taxed paper, paint and tea. Those early-Americans, generations before becoming comfortable, passive and apathetic, on 16 December, 1773, held the Boston Tea Party. Dressed as Native Americans, the colonist boarded three English ships moored in Boston Harbor, then spent hours smashing the ships cargo of wooden chests filled with tea and throwing the damaged boxes over the sides of the ships and into the harbor waters, thus protesting what they felt was taxation without representation. Eventually, one might argue, abusive taxation was one of the major injustices that led directly to the American War for Independence (1775-83). But winning that war did not eradicate abusive taxation, it only embedded the abusers closer to home.
The leaders of the newly created United States wasted little time in imposing a "sin tax," which was placed upon distilled spirits. The "sin tax" was seen as unfair to the frontiersmen, who distilled more alcohol, especially whiskey, than their eastern counterparts. Isolated protests eventually led in 1794 to an armed revolt, known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The new government soon found a more acceptable platform from which to sell the idea of taxes to the people; in 1812 the government sold the idea of an income tax founded on patriotism and the war effort. That war, however, ended before the income tax was officially enacted. The idea resurfaced during the American Civil War. Arguing to the people that the moneys were desperately needed to fund the war, and the tax would only be temporary, President Lincoln and Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861, and taxation was at hand. Due to extensive problems with the Act, taxes were not collected until the law was revised in the Tax Act of 1862. The government was getting closer to its desired goal. In addition to taxing specific items, the Tax Act specified that persons who earned up to $10,000.00 annually would be required to pay the government three percent of their income, and persons earning more than $10,000.00 annually would pay five percent. The Act was repealed in 1872. Further tinkering led to a graduated-scale income tax placed upon all citizens. Although implemented in 1894, the graduated-scale income tax scheme was found unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in 1895. To make taxation a permanent fixture, the United States Constitution had to be changed.
In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, thus eliminating the need to base federal taxes on state population numbers. Permanent taxation was a reality, and that same year the first Form 1040 was created. Today, the Internal Revenue Service each year collects more than $2.2-trillion in tax net of refunds, about 44% of which is attributable to individual income tax. But where is the representation that is suppose to be inseparable from that $968-billion? Before getting to the solution for inserting representation back into taxation, let me offer just a few general ideas of how to fix the present tax system.
To fix the tax system we must start with simplifying the tax codes, which presently are so convoluted that even experts and professionals in tax law, accounting and the preparation of tax forms cannot fully understand all the rules and regulations. Simplify by creating a flat rate tax system. One rate for all gross income. Fix the rate of taxation so it is equal, thus fair, across the board. The next step must be to tax consumption. The tax on a pair of $30.00 school shoes for a six-year old should be taxed at a much lower rate than the tax on a $2,500.00 pair of designer shoes for a celebrity; a $45.00 wool shawl to keep a poor elderly woman warm should not be taxed at the same rate as a $75,000.00 mink to drape across the shoulders of a socialite. The tax rate on a 225-foot yacht should be higher than that of a 22-foot sail boat. Excess should carry with it a higher cost. In addition, resources such as fossil fuels, water, even electricity, would be taxed at a rate fixed to the amount used; use more, the rate of tax is higher. The person who uses "X" gallons of gasoline per year would be taxed a set rate. The person who uses four times that amount of gasoline would be taxed at a rate four times the rate of "X". A person who uses less gasoline to operate his "green" vehicle should not be required to pay taxes on his limited gasoline consumption at the same rate of a person who chooses to operate a vehicle that, while being roomy and luxurious, uses many times the amount of gasoline to go an equal distance. We must also enact substantial increases of the taxes on tobacco, alcohol and like-products that have a direct negative impact on society. Simplify the tax code, set a tax rate on gross income that is equal across the board, heavily tax consumption, and tax vice that directly harms society. This Pamphlet, however, is not meant to be a discussion on tax reform. It is meant to focus on representation in accordance with the taxes ripped from the hands of the people by greedy and wasteful governments.
THE SOLUTION: Laws must be enacted revising tax forms to include categories that every taxpayer would select from directing where his/her tax dollars would be spent, for example, national security, health care, education, infrastructure, space exploration, environmental rehabilitation and restoration, wildlife and species protection, etc. The categories would be broad, but not vague, with a section for comments. The categories would be specific enough to provide real representation, and the taxpayer could designate percentages of his/her tax dollars to any number of categories, e.g., 45% towards national security, 25% to health care, 24% for education and, perhaps, 6% designated to environmental rehabilitation and restoration, or the other way around; or to whatever categories and in percentages each taxpayer so chooses. It would be up to the individual taxpayer to instruct his/her governments where his/her tax dollars are to be spent. Government spending would then be representative of the people. It is a simple fix of enormous importance -- putting representation back into our tax system -- lest the people become not so comfortable, passive and apathetic that history reexpresses itself by way of protests, revolts and war.