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'Tis the Season to be Angry

April 18, 2011

"Congress shall create a Tax Code weighing more than the combined poundage of the largest member of the House and the largest member of the Senate, plus a standard musk ox."
-Article I, Section VI of the Constitution of the United States (according to "Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway")

It's that time of year again. Dig out those receipts showing every possible legal deduction. Find all those canceled checks proving that you paid all those doctor bills last year. Add up the mileage for all those business-related trips you took. Put it all into a shoebox, take it down to a $300-per-hour CPA firm and hope they get it right this year.

Under no circumstances should you contact actual employees of the IRS about anything, since one out of every three questions they answer will be wrong.

Do you remember when Ronald Reagan held up those reams of paper during his State of the Union address? Well, that was a quarter century ago, and it is even more convoluted and unintelligible now than even the Gipper could have imagined.

In 1913, when the tax on productivity, fondly known as the "income tax," was conceived, it taxed less than one percent of the population at a rate of less than one percent of their income. In fact, someone in Congress at the time suggested that the 16th Amendment should include a clause prohibiting the new tax rate from rising above two percent. Other members derisively scoffed, "Two percent? Don't be ridiculous! It will never rise that high!"

Fast forward to the 21st century. Federal spending is out of control on a scale those congressional representatives of yesteryear could not have imagined in their wildest dreams. Every form of productivity known to exist is taxed until there is little incentive to produce anything all to pay for pork barrel spending, unconstitutional social programs and fiscal ponzi schemes designed for the sole purpose of redistributing hard-earned wealth.

We have taxes on our earned income, capital gains taxes on our investments, and taxes on virtually everything we use for work or play. And finally, when life is done, we have the death tax, which, though it was phased out temporarily in 2010, will be back with a vengeance in a couple of years. Surprise! And just when you thought it was safe to die. (Better do it this year or next.)

Meanwhile, an underground cash economy of drugs, prostitution, pornography and other vices thrives in America, with its purveyors contributing little or nothing to the overall operation of the country. Foreign tourists travel to the United State every year, leaving behind state sales taxes but nothing for the federal coffers. Those are left to us, we, the people, to fill with the first fruits of our labor. And all the while the highest corporate income taxes in the industrialized world are passed along to American consumers in the form of higher prices. Because, you see, corporations don't pay taxes; people pay taxes.

Yes, it is that time of year again. The roses are beginning to bloom and spring is in the air; but no one notices because we are all so frustrated and angry at having to subject ourselves to a tax system we can't begin to understand.

It is the season when every American taxpayer should be demanding a brand new tax code, because the one we have is broken. I don't mean it is in need of reform. I mean that it is broken: irretrievably, irreconcilably, unequivocally unworkable and broken beyond repair. A century of tinkering is enough. Scrap it. Destroy it. Replace it with a national consumption tax.

There are only a couple of really hard-charging point people in Congress on this issue. So, unless you live in the 7th Congressional District of Georgia, where U.S. Rep. John Linder is your congressman, or the 5th Congressional District of Iowa, where the ever-outspoken Steve King is your representative, you need to write to your congressperson and demand that he or she give us the Fair Tax (www.FairTax.org).

Let's turn the season to be angry into the season to stop and smell the roses. Imagine if April 15th was just another Spring day.

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Copyright ©2011 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.