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Senate Tax Revision Plan

July 11, 1986

By eliminating loopholes and deductions that favor select special interests, the Senate tax plan takes a giant step toward fairness. But it also takes a giant step backward--by rolling back our progressive tax structure (from the current system in which 14 income levels pay widely ranging rates to one in which nearly all taxpayers pay the same flat rate.

Historically, our tax structure has been based on a simple principle: the more you make, the more you pay. This progressive system has encouraged compliance by fostering a sense of fairness (the feeling that "the other guy" is pulling his fair share of the load).

But loopholes and elaborate tax-dodging schemes have undermined the code's integrity. Average taxpayers have come to believe (rightly so) that the burden they shoulder is made greater by individuals and corporations able to dodge taxes with high-priced lawyers and exotic investments.

The Senate plan addresses this problem, but naively assumes (in the name of simplicity) that fewer tax brackets are better. In fact, simplicity serves the taxpayer by making tax experts and investment schemes meaningless on April 15. Fewer brackets make his taxes no easier to calculate. Fewer brackets are better only for wealthy individuals called on by our progressive system to pull a greater share of the load.

Must Americans settle for such a trade-off? Should the federal government give citizens fairness with one hand while taking it away with the other?

By clamping down on loopholes and deductions, the Senate plan makes possible an overall tax cut of approximately $90 billion.

The average taxpayer should consider how much more of this he could save with a progressive system. And the average taxpayer should wonder: fair enough?


West Chester, Pa.

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