A Moral Tax Code is Possible

Dr. Ben Carson recently revealed the details of his tax plan, Prescription for Growth.

Experts are just beginning to evaluate the economic impact of Carson’s plan; but it is heartening to see real economists, not just pundits, heap high praise upon it.

See Daniel J. Mitchell’s article, “With a Bold and Pure Flat Tax, Ben Carson Sets the Standard for Pro-Growth Reform” and Chris Edwards’ “Ben Carson’s Tax Plan” at CATO.org. Stephen Moore from Freedomworks chimed in as well with “Ben Carson’s Tax Plan Would Make America More Competitive in the World.”

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board (1/8/16) said, “Mr. Carson’s flat tax would generate as much if not more economic growth as any plan introduced by this year’s candidates.”

This is especially true when coupled with his plans to reduce government expenses and regulations, further reducing the deficit, the debt and ultimately balance the budget.

Carson wrote, “This expanded growth translates into more than five million additional jobs over 10 years, with a nearly 11 percent increase in wages.” Everybody benefits, not just the rich as some critics of the plan have alleged.

Mr. Edward’s article pointed to a unique aspect of Carson’s proposal:   “I like the fact that he (Carson) makes both an economic and moral case for flat and equal taxation on all American’s above a low-income threshold.”

WOW – a moral case for taxation? Yes, Carson’s Prescription for Growth has PRINCIPLES behind the POLICIES. Carson’s plan is:

  1. Fair. Every citizen pays something. Lots of folks talk about ‘equal justice under the law’ until it comes to paying taxes. Currently, “45% of American households pay no income tax at all.” Some of these folks may have little income, and some may be very wealthy but take advantage of current legal loopholes. Why should 55% of Americans pay for 100% of America’s expenses?

Under Carson’s plan, and perhaps the most controversial part of it, EVERYONE will pay taxes, including most of that 45% who don’t pay taxes now. Everyone will have skin in the game, which, one would hope, would get us all attuned to how the government is spending OUR money. Dr. Carson emphasizes this by referring to Americans as ‘citizen-owners’, putting the idea of America being “of, for and by the people” at the front and center of his plan.

  1. Proportional and compassionate.   Way before the details came out, Dr. Carson said his plan is based on the biblical concept of tithing, because “God is a pretty fair guy.” (August 6, 2015 debate) Under Carson’s plan everybody – individuals and businesses – pays the same percentage. Carson’s number crunchers have settled on 14.9% with one exception for the poorest among us.   Those at 150% of the poverty level or below will not pay 14.9% but, in keeping with the idea that everybody should participate, will be required to pay a small amount, perhaps $50 to $100.
  1. Constitutional. The Constitution gives Congress the right to raise revenue.   But over time Congress has increasingly used the tax code to “redistribute wealth, micromanage free citizens or intrude on privacy.” Our taxes should be used solely to fund the functions of government, not control our behavior. The current tax code is a violation of our liberty and often an unconstitutional confiscation of property.
  1. Impartial. Carson’s plan has no loopholes, no deductions, tax credits, no tax shelters, no alternative minimum tax. None. “There is no danger,” he writes, “of the government favoring one group over another.” Often we think of tax exemptions as a good thing – like encouraging home ownership or charitable giving – but more often exceptions result in armies of accountants, lobbyists and lawyers gaming the system for the benefit of some at the expense of others.   The idea of impartial treatment is based on the biblical principle that God – like true justice – does not play favorites. With these changes, the IRS will no longer have that kind of power over us.
  1. Encourages honesty. Carson’s plan is simple. He writes, “Simplicity is a virtue; it serves as the hallmark of honesty and fairness.”   By being simple, it makes it harder to cheat – and there is little incentive to try.
  1. Frees up time and resources. “According to the National Taxpayers Union, the American people wasted more than $230 billion and spent 6 billion hours last year, just to prepare our taxes.” Carson’s plan frees up time, money and talents for other more important things – like the pursuit of happiness!
  1. Encourages investment and entrepreneurship. Carson’s plan eliminates double taxation of capital gains, dividends, interest income and estate taxes. It encourages capital investment by replacing depreciation schedules with an immediate write-off of capital purchases to help release the powerful economic engine of the United States. Americans will be encouraged to start saving money again.

There will be more details in the future, but how refreshing to see a leader propose policies based on sound constitutional and moral principles, as well as economic ones. Thank you, Ben Carson!

This screenshot from Fox News summarizes the highlights:

Carson Tax Plan

All quotes not attributed are from Ben Carson, Prescription for Growth, https://www.bencarson.com/issues/tax-reform

The other articles can be accessed here: