Friday, April 22, 2011

The Twenty Eighth Section 1 - 3

The first three sections of the proposed 28th Amendment target taxes. The U.S. tax system is a behemoth. Everyone knows it. Little can been done to simplify and shrink the bloated jabberwock. Alexander Hamilton argued for the unlimited power to tax. Due respect to the Honorable Mr. Hamilton, unlimited power to tax is not necessary and will always be abused. What were you thinking?

When little or nothing can be done to prune unnecessary complexity, the thing to do is cut the vine off at the root and stand vigil until the monster is dead. That's exactly what Section 1 does.
The 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Repealing the 16th Amendment does not target the Federal Reserve, however the IRS is not sacrosanct and the tax code must come down with it. Section 1 undermines the Internal Revenue Act of 1913. Section 2 establishes the tax code in the Constitution. The distribution of a direct tax must be equally apportioned according to the census. No other revenue means is allowed, and a ceiling is established to cap federal revenue.
Congress may collect no revenue by any means other than a flat individual income tax not to exceed 15% of an individual's net earnings, a flat corporate tax not to exceed 10% of net revenues and actual user fees for services. All citizens and businesses shall be taxed at the same rate, and no exceptions, exemptions, or credits will be allowed.

The phrase 'not to exceed' can't be stressed enough. Congress will still establish the actual rate, but the tax itself is flat and no exemptions, less chance of corporations getting off easy. Effectively, this caps the tax rate but gives Congress the flexibility it needs to address national crises. Nevertheless, Congressional power to tax must be limited. Likewise, the power to invent the budget also must be limited. But we still have to face the unpredictable caveats. If the power to tax is curtailed, how are wars and responses to national emergencies paid for? Hence, Section 3:
A. Any budget passed by the Congress must be funded by actual revenues collected through taxes as described in Section 2. Except in time of War as defined below, no deficit spending, borrowing on future funds, borrowing from other entities or other mechanisms to meet budget requirements will be allowed.
B. For the purposes of this section, "War" shall be defined as hostilities declared by the President of the United States in the Constitutional role of Commander-in-Chief, and authorized by the Congress under the terms of the "War Powers Act" of 1973. Any funds borrowed shall be used exclusively for executing that War and shall be re-paid entirely no later than 15 years from the end of the War.

War is the only emergency specified in Section 3 and we might be tempted to include natural disasters, but then the definitions get slimy. What precisely, as in the War Powers Act of 1973, is a national disaster and how is it declared? In my opinion, it's better not to open that rabbit hole. There are other ways to manage those situations. The question not withstanding, overall this is a good start at reconstructing the U.S. tax system. Much more than just a straw man.

The next post will complete my review of the 28th. See the original proposed 28th Amendment here. Show the authors your support.

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