We learned this week that the Biden administration's upcoming tax plan will include the largest tax increases since Bill Clinton's tax overhaul in the early 1990s. A former Biden economic aide tells us the basis for the massive tax changes will be to make the American tax system more fair and address inequity in the tax code.
For those paying attention to the culture war raging in Western nations over the past few years, these leftist code words signal that actual fairness is the last thing Americans can expect out of a comprehensive tax overhaul from this administration and their allies in Congress. While the left is correct that many Americans believe the tax code to be unfair (especially taxpayers forced to navigate the expensive and tortuously confusing annual income tax filing trauma), their perspective is the exact opposite of that being advanced by Biden surrogates to push for change. The tax code is another front being opened by the left in the culture war pitting classes of Americans against each other, with liberal Democrats playing the part of defenders of the oppressed and, coincidentally, siphoning more money from working Americans to give away to special interests.
There is no question the American tax system is unfair, by any objective standard. Instead of an equal, objective rate of contribution from all Americans who enjoy the benefits of living in our nation, we have a shockingly complex labyrinth of tax rates, exemptions, deductions, exceptions and exceptions to exceptions. The current U.S. tax code is so complicated, nobody can even agree on how long it is. Many claim it to be more than 70,000 pages, while others insist the number is less than 5,000. In addition to the actual law, though, there are millions of pages of agency rulings and court decisions on litigation that are supposed to clarify how to apply the law.
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result of this politically manipulated madness is the top half of American workers (those earning more than about $41,000 per year) pay 97% of all federal income taxes. But, regardless of how obscenely lopsided the actual numbers are, leftists will never agree that their demands that "the rich need to pay their fair share!" has been achieved. The words "rich" and "fair" are endlessly subjective, allowing them to make never-ending political demands that can never be met.
The use of class war as a cover for raising taxes is not new. In the 1990s, liberals used class envy to implement a new revenue grab by labeling it a "luxury tax." The tax was projected to create a windfall for the federal government by collecting a 10% tax on yachts, private jets and other expensive items. As always, the revenue projections depended on the taxpayer continuing to make the same financial transaction, only adding the additional tax for the government. As always, taxpayers considered the additional costs and adjusted their spending accordingly. Not only did the expected windfall of tax revenue fail to appear, but American workers in the targeted industries were decimated by layoffs as demand crashed for the products they produced. It was such a disaster that Bill Clinton and congressional Democrats were forced to eliminate the tax.
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In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, newly inaugurated Barack Obama also bellowed a message of class envy as cover for increasing taxes. The theme of "stick it to the rich" was the justification for demanding heavy taxes on things like private jets. Just like the early 1990s, though, this message did not take into account the thousands of ordinary Americans who work to build those aircraft or supply parts, not to mention those who service, fly, fuel and clean general aviation aircraft.
To be sure, there are some glaring inequities most Americans should agree need to be fixed in the tax code. The fact that global mega-corporations like Amazon are able to exploit the tax code to pay no income tax on billions in income demonstrates that something needs to change. Simplification is something most should agree is necessary. But these are not the kind of changes for fairness expected from the Biden administration. While wealthy corporations and nonprofits positioning themselves as advocates for the poor have plenty of lobbying power, ordinary Americans have no advocate to say enough is enough. As a result, the wealthy are able to lobby and donate their way to special tax treatment while tax expenditures are slathered on a vast and swelling array of poverty programs. Ordinary Americans are increasingly demonized so they can be squeezed as the only source of revenue.
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