This Tuesday is Federal Tax Day, USA. That three-day respite from paying our 2016 federal income taxes to the IRS is cold comfort to millions of American taxpayers.
We still have to weave our way wearily through the labyrinthine legalese of tax codes and IRS rules. Given the complexity and confusion of that onerous task, many of us turn to the experts to ease our passage and calm our concerns.
But what about the others among us who cannot afford the luxury of having professional tax preparers do their navigation through the bureaucratic maze? Sadly, they are left to look to others for help.
Sure, there’s the 1040EZ form (as in easy) for relatively low-income taxpayers, but hard copies of them are harder to find these days. Out of curiosity, I recently dropped by our local post office and library to pick up a few 1040 forms and IRS instructions. Unfortunately, they no longer stock any of these documents -- why?
If you guessed it's because the IRS no longer provides this convenient access through post offices and libraries, you’re right. The irony here is obvious, but I’ll state it anyway. The IRS should be making it easy for low-income, low-tech taxpayers to file their returns. Instead, they’re making it hard, all in the name of convenience and cost-cutting, for the IRS, that is.
In the longer litany of IRS indiscretions, this issue is not a real big deal. However, it is one more example of how a federal government entity designed to serve we the people has gradually and inexorably morphed into our master.
There are, however, better ways for our government to wrest our well-earned tax dollars from us, without taxing our brains and patience. For example, as part of President Trump’s focus on tax reform, I believe a “fair, flat tax” plan should be high on his agenda, in consultation with his own tax team -- and with Congress, of course.
Most Americans favor some kind of tax reform because we fear the current system and we’re frustrated by the complexities of trying to comply with it. A fair, flat tax system, properly conceived and enacted into law, would be easier and simpler to pay, and easier for the IRS to enforce.
For example, let’s say you earn $100,000 per year and the federal income tax rate is 15 percent. Then you pay $15,000 in federal income taxes -- no more and no less. If I earn $50,000 a year, I pay $7,500 in federal income taxes.
Meanwhile, I aspire to earn what you do -- even though my taxes would double. Why? Because I believe we Americans who earn more money should pay more taxes and be able to keep more of the money we earn. Sounds fair to me. How about you?
Feel free to voice your views, pro and con with me, and more importantly, with our members of Congress and the Trump administration.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at email@example.com.