Editorial: No, no, no to 9-9-9

Sunday, October 16, 2011
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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain will get no argument here, or in many other places, that America’s tax code could benefit from some simplification. And while his 9-9-9 tax plan is indeed a model of simplicity — one that would likely put tens of thousands of accountants out of work — it’s not a particularly fair way for the government to raise money. Unless, that is, you think all Americans — rich or poor, individual or corporation — ought to pay the same percentage of their income in taxes.

Some Republicans and tea party-types like Cain do think so, but if that were to happen, it would create an even larger disparity between this country’s rich and poor. The rich, currently taxed at a rate of 35 percent, would get a huge tax cut; those with low and middle incomes, including seniors, who currently don’t pay any income tax, would get slammed: They’d not only have to pay the same 9 percent income tax that rich folk would pay, but a 9 percent sales tax on most of what they buy. (Cain’s claim that they’d get a break on the sales tax because he wouldn’t apply it to used goods is insulting, and has negative implications for manufacturers of new goods like cars and houses.)

Sales taxes are particularly regressive in that they take a larger share of a poor person’s income than a rich person’s. For example, if a person making $1 million paid an $1,800 sales tax on a $20,000 car, he would scarcely feel the hit; but if a person making $30,000 had to pay the same $1,800, he’d likely be struggling to absorb the hit for the rest of the year.

Nowhere is it set in stone that income (or other) taxes have to be progressive, but the notion that wealthier people can afford to pay more and thus should do so has been a guiding principle of the U.S. tax code since the early 1900s. It should remain so, regardless of what may or may not be done to simplify it.

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October 16, 2011
8:12 a.m.
mj3843 says...

What people forget that 9% would be on "top" of what you pay for the "state" sales tax and that would not be fair no matter how you cut it. Secondly, what would he do about the "states" and their sales tax? is the next question.
I have never been for or will I ever be for a "flat tax" as it is unfair is so many ways.

October 18, 2011
4:48 p.m.
robbump says...

Capital gains are exempt too, I believe. If anything, gains for simply making a few phone calls ("buy!", "sell!") deserve to be taxed as much as the wages for one's blood, sweat and tears.

In fact, if anything, it should be WAGES exempt from taxes, not gains.

October 19, 2011
11:27 a.m.
JLibertarian says...

None of you including the editorial writer understand this plan. The example given in the editorial about a person who makes $1 million dollars buying a $20,000 not feeling the effects as much as the person making $30,000 buying the same car. This is a ludicrous example. I don't think a millionaire would be buying a $20,000 car. They would probably be buying a more expensive car. Also, the 9% sales tax is only imposed on new items that are purchased. If you buy an used item, there is no sales tax. It would apply to food but the food should cost less than it does now because all of the taxes paid now by producers would not be rolled into the price of the goods and services, particularly the FICA taxes. So, what about the state and local sales taxes? If you are generally getting more money in your paycheck, you will have more money to spend. And if you don't buy anything, you don't pay that tax.

As for taxing capital gains, why? If you all ready paid taxes on the money you used to invest, why do you need to pay taxes on that money again? The investor has put his blood, sweat, and tears into earning the money he used to invest with. You people think anyone who invests money in stocks, bonds, and even to start their own business is a rich person. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is true that more people would be paying taxes but isn't that the call from the President and his Democrat allies? You should pay your fair share. Whatever that is?

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