The sim­pler the bet­ter

Pro­gres­sives and tax loop­holes

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - OPINION - Ken Wel­ton St. Ge­orge, Utah Ron Mo­ers Hen­der­son

The New York Times is apoplec­tic that many work­ers will get to keep more of their own money un­der the Repub­li­can tax plan. A re­cent Times ed­i­to­rial called the mea­sure “an im­mense tax give­away to the rich” but then pro­ceeded to of­fer a roar­ing de­fense of loop­holes and hand­outs that pri­mar­ily ben­e­fit the rich.

The pa­per claims to have crunched the num­bers and found that, un­der the House pro­posal, “taxes would go up for 45 per­cent of mid­dle-class tax­pay­ers by 2027.” This is a guess pred­i­cated on a num­ber of as­sump­tions that may or may not ma­te­ri­al­ize over the next decade and de­pend on a whole host of vari­ables tied to every wage earner’s unique cir­cum­stances. In fact, only about half of house­holds mak­ing up to $100,000 item­ize their de­duc­tions. Dou­bling the stan­dard de­duc­tion — as both the Se­nate and House bills pro­pose — will re­sult in fewer tax­pay­ers fil­ing Sched­ule A forms, mean­ing sav­ings for most mid­dle-class work­ers.

The Times ea­gerly sup­ports the fact that the tax code has be­come larded with spe­cial-in­ter­est write-offs that pro­vide job se­cu­rity for a bevy of ac­coun­tants and at­tor­neys. The pa­per la­bels as “mean­spir­ited” ef­forts to elim­i­nate tax breaks for wind en­ergy projects, mov­ing ex­penses and the pur­chase of elec­tric cars — as if Joe Six­pack will now have to aban­don plans to buy a $100,000 Tesla thanks to the das­tardly GOP. Truth is, most of the loop­holes tar­geted in the Repub­li­can plan over­whelm­ingly ben­e­fit the well-off.

The real ques­tion is why any of th­ese tax sub­si­dies — and dozens more — ex­ist in the first place. Is the pur­pose of the tax code to fund the gov­ern­ment or to serve as a blunt in­stru­ment to re­ward or pun­ish be­hav­ior to achieve so­cial goals deemed ben­e­fi­cial by those in­side the Belt­way? Yes, Amer­i­cans de­serve to keep more of what they earn, and loop­holes help achieve that end. But tax law that re­sults from lob­by­ist arm-twist­ing, spe­cial plead­ings and crony­ism is nei­ther fair nor ef­fi­cient and breeds ran­cor and re­sent­ment.

The Na­tional Tax­payer Ad­vo­cate, an IRS watch­dog, es­ti­mates that Amer­i­cans spend $195 bil­lion a year com­ply­ing with the tax code. Crit­ics can at­tack the GOP plan on a num­ber of fronts, but how can any­one op­pose the goal of mak­ing this rat’s nest less com­pli­cated? The Repub­li­can plans, how­ever im­per­fect, make an hon­est ef­fort in this re­gard.

“On sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, it’s ac­tu­ally pretty good,” Duke law pro­fes­sor Lawrence Ze­le­nak told the Wall Street Journal this week. “It gets rid of sev­eral things which add a lot of com­plex­ity for a lot of or­di­nary tax­pay­ers.”

And that should be ap­plauded as a sig­nif­i­cant ac­com­plish­ment.

The Re­view-journal wel­comes let­ters to the ed­i­tor. Let­ters should not ex­ceed 275 words and must in­clude the writer’s name, mail­ing ad­dress and phone num­ber. Sub­mis­sions may be edited and be­come the prop­erty of the Re­view-journal.

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Fax 702-383-4676 the Bush tax cuts. Ge­orge W. Bush in­her­ited an an­nual bud­get sur­plus. Thanks to his tax cuts, plus the ini­ti­a­tion of an­other un­end­ing war, the sur­plus evap­o­rated, debt dou­bled and deficits sky­rock­eted.

Now it’s 2017. More Repub­li­can tax re­form. I’m sup­posed to be­lieve this will ben­e­fit and ex­pand the mid­dle class? Re­duce cor­po­rate rates and they will re­turn a por­tion to work­ers? Bull. Al­ready more than 20 per­cent of cor­po­ra­tions in the Dow pay less than 20 per­cent. Half pay less than 25 per­cent. Conned again? In the midst of this quag­mire, an­other pres­i­dent hell­bent on more war.

His­tory re­peat­ing it­self? Only if we let it. given an anes­thetic to “put me out,” I was told to “count back from 100.” I never re­mem­ber get­ting to 98. I’ve also seen an­i­mals put down. It was done hu­manely with no pain. But, some­how, de­fense at­tor­neys be­lieve that the state is in the busi­ness of tor­tur­ing mur­der­ers be­fore they are ex­e­cuted. I find that ab­surd.

Fur­ther­more, how can the state pos­si­bly harm the de­fen­dant any­more than he has al­ready harmed — in­deed, heinously mur­dered — the vic­tim?

The goal of Scott Dozier’s at­tor­neys is sim­ple: to help their client avoid pay­ing the ul­ti­mate penalty for vi­ciously tak­ing from his vic­tim what they now don’t want taken from him, the gift of life. There is a bet­ter de­fense: Do not mur­der your fel­low hu­man be­ings in the first place.

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