The Income Tax Issue in the United States

Let’s face it: taxation is a hot button for politicians and ordinary citizens alike. No one likes to receive less money than they earn, but we all need to contribute something in order to make this country operate.

Are the millionaires and billionaires paying their fair share in income tax? No. Not in this country. I’ll leave it at that. Just ask the Swedes, the Danes, the Dutch, the Japanese and citizens of other countries. I don’t believe — like Donald Trump once did, before running for President — in raiding a person’s wealth today to make up for our far-too-lenient tax codes of the past. Let’s educate the rich on becoming good stewards of their wealth — many already are — and reassure them that, no matter what they may believe and practice in the way of philanthropy, “you can’t take it with you.”

I believe in a consumption tax, in lieu of or perhaps in addition to a lower income tax, far greater than the current gasoline, alcohol, tobacco, and other such taxes already in place. I want to change the tax paradigm to look beyond income and consider consumption of our land, our water, our roads — our entire infrastructure — and ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. Look at your footprint on this planet and ask yourself, “Am I paying a fair amount for what I use?”

As an apartment dweller with a bicycle, yes, you probably are; as the owner of two homes, two cars and a pickup, an RV, a boat and a swimming pool, no, you probably are not. I know these are generalities, but I propose, in terms of taxation, to reward those who live simpler and more environmentally responsible lives and put a heavier burden on those live “large.”

This goes for businesses, too. A factory with a plant on ten acres of land using large amounts of electricity and water should pay a much higher percentage of tax than an internet darling operating out of a one-room office. How could a steel and aluminum and other such companies afford higher taxes, you ask? By passing along the higher price of doing business to their customers. Most of us blindly purchase items without regard for bigger and longer-range consequences of our decisions. I’m as guilty as the next person.

I’m thinking out of the box, here. I have not run financial models or spoken with implementers of such an idea. But I want to believe that, in some point in our future, those in charge of running our country will begin to think this way.

Stuart Hotchkiss
July 31, 2015

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