Meanwhile, Social Security/Medicare funds are no longer triple-taxed as under the current system: 1) when payroll taxes are initially withheld; 2) when those withheld payroll taxes are counted as part of the taxable base for income tax purposes; and 3) when the promised benefits are finally received.
Furthermore, the sponsors of the FairTax are totally dedicated to the permanent repeal of the income tax. No current supporter of the FairTax would support the FairTax unless the entire income tax is repealed. There is a separate bill, HJR 16, which repeals the 16th Amendment to the Constitution but it must go through a different adoption process than HR 25. HJR 16 has to be passed by a two-thirds vote of members of both the House and the Senate and be approved (or ratified) by three-fourths of state legislatures (38). We are currently laying the organizational groundwork for this push and have already started the educational process at the state level.
Finally, the reality is that we already have both an income and a type of sales tax today. All of our U.S. produced goods and services are burdened with an “embedded” tax due to the cascading of income and payroll taxes paid by U.S. employers to the U.S. Treasury at every step of production. Of course, these costs are passed on to the ultimate payer, the customer. It’s fair to call these embedded taxes a “sales tax” because we pay it every time we buy any goods or services — we just don’t see it. The FairTax eliminates these embedded taxes, resulting in a single-rate national sales tax visible to all.
Is the FAIRtax progressive? Do the rich pay more and the poor pay less as a percentage of their spending?
Since business purchases are not taxable, how does the FAIRtax keep individuals from pretending to have a business so they can buy things tax-free?
Also, as registered sellers, they are subject to the possibility of being audited by the state. During such an audit, they will have to produce the invoices for all the “business purchases” that they did not pay sales tax on and will have to be able to show that they were bona fide business expenses. If they cannot prove this, then they will have to pay the taxes that should have been paid when the items were purchased, plus interest and penalties. The probability of being audited will be much greater than it is under the current system with its over 140 million tax filers. Under the FairTax, there will be less than 20 million businesses that will be filing sales tax returns and thus subject to the possibility of being audited. Thus, the probability of tax cheats getting caught will be much greater than it is today, making tax evasion riskier than it is today. Additionally, while the FairTax has much stronger taxpayer rights than does the current tax system, the FairTax legislation provides for a number of fines and penalties for noncompliance. It also authorizes a mechanism for reporting tax cheats and obtaining a reward. An example would be 1-800-TAX-CHET.
Another potential scam would be to have a “fake” family business in order to buy things for family members tax free. The FairTax has a specific provision to prevent this. Although it does not prohibit businesses from providing taxable property or services as gifts, prizes, rewards, or as remuneration for employment, the gift, reward, etc. is considered to be the conversion of property or services from business use to personal use and is therefore taxable. Likewise, there is a similar provision to prevent abuse of employee discounts. Under the FairTax, employer-provided employee discounts over 20 percent are taxable. The term “employee discount” means an employer’s offer of taxable property or services for sale to its employees or their families for less than the offer of such taxable property or services to the general public. If the employee discount amount exceeds 20 percent of the price to the general public, then the sale of such taxable property or services by the employer to the employee is considered the conversion of property or services to personal use and is subject to tax. The taxable amount is the amount by which the discount exceeds 20 percent of the price to the general public.
I know the FAIRtax rate is 23 percent when compared to current income taxes. What will the rate of the sales tax be at the retail counter?
When income tax rates are quoted, economists call that a tax-inclusive quote: “I paid 23 percent last year.” For every $100 earned, $23 went to Uncle Sam. Or, “I had to make $130 to have $100 to spend.” That’s a 23-percent tax-inclusive rate.
We choose to compare the FairTax to income taxes, quoting the rate the same way, because the FairTax replaces such taxes. That rate is 23 percent.
Sales taxes, on the other hand, are generally quoted tax exclusive: “I bought a $77 shirt and had to pay that same $23 in sales tax.” This is a 30-percent sales tax. Or, “I spent a dollar, 77¢ for the product and 23¢ in tax.” This rate, when programmed into a point-of-purchase terminal, is 30 percent.
Note that no matter which way it is quoted, the amount of tax is the same. Under an income tax rate of 23 percent, you have to earn $130 to spend $100.
Spend that same $100 under a sales tax, you pay that same tax of $30, and the rate is quoted as 30 percent.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that under the income tax, controlling the amount of tax you pay is a complex nightmare. Under the FairTax, you may simply choose not to spend, or to spend less.
Job creation booms. Residential real estate booms. Financial services boom. Exports boom. Retail prospers. Farming and ranching prosper. Churches and charities prosper. Civil liberties are enhanced. In short, it is difficult to imagine the far-reaching, positive effects of this change. Though this tax policy is exactly what our Founding Fathers counseled us to do with the Federalist Papers and the Constitution.
What about value-added taxes (VATs), like they have in Europe and Canada? Are they not consumption taxes?
Under the income tax, casinos, etc. are already paying tax to the government for net profits and the employer share of payroll taxes, which go away under the FairTax. Their compliance costs would decrease under the FairTax as well. Finally, people who gamble will have more gross take-home pay under the FairTax and big winners will not have to pay tax at the time of winning. So this is a win-win for all.
Below is the section of the FairTax bill, HR 25, specifying the taxation of gaming activities.
SEC. 702. GAMING ACTIVITIES.
(a) REGISTRATION- Any person selling 1 or more chances is a gaming sponsor and shall register, in a form prescribed by the Secretary, with the sales tax administering authority as a gaming sponsor.
(b) CHANCE DEFINED- For purposes of this section, the term `chance’ means a lottery ticket, a raffle ticket, chips, other tokens, a bet or bets placed, a wager or wagers placed, or any similar device where the purchase of the right gives rise to an obligation by the gaming sponsor to pay upon the occurrence of (1) a random or unpredictable event; or
(2) an event over which neither the gaming sponsor nor the person purchasing the chance has control over the outcome.
(c) CHANCES NOT TAXABLE PROPERTY OR SERVICE- Notwithstanding any other provision in this subtitle, a chance is not taxable property or services for purposes of section 101.
(d) TAX ON GAMING SERVICES IMPOSED- A 23-percent tax is hereby imposed on the taxable gaming services of a gaming sponsor. This tax shall be paid and remitted by the gaming sponsor. The tax shall be remitted by the 15th day of each month with respect to taxable gaming services during the previous calendar month.
(e) TAXABLE GAMING SERVICES DEFINED- For purposes of this section, the term `taxable gaming services’ means–
(1) gross receipts of the gaming sponsor from the sale of chances, minus
(2) the sum of–
(A) total gaming payoffs to chance purchasers (or their designees); and
(B) gaming specific taxes (other than the tax imposed by this section) imposed by the Federal, State, or local government.
However, the FairTax is highly visible. And because there is only one tax rate, it will be very hard for Congress to adopt the typical divide-and-conquer, hide-and-disguise strategy employed today to ratchet up the burden gradually, by manipulating the income tax code. Ultimately, the tax rate will be dictated by the size of government. If government gets larger, higher tax rates will be required. If government shrinks relative to the economy, then the tax rate will fall. Federalist 21, by Alexander Hamilton, is a great read on the futility of government raising a consumption tax too high, and thus reducing revenues.
Very few people really understand the flat tax. Its authors will tell you it is a consumption tax that uses the income tax system for implementation. Only an academic or government bureaucrat would dream up a consumption tax that needs the invasive income tax apparatus for its application, when one can simply have a retail sales tax and reduce the bureaucracy by 90 percent or more! In addition, a large part of the burden of the flat tax — the business tax — will remain hidden from people in the retail price of goods and services.
In contrast, the FairTax is simple, easy to understand, and visible. It cannot be converted into an income tax.
Under a flat tax, individuals would still file an income tax return each year similar to today’s 1040 EZ. While this is a simple postcard, the record keeping required to fill in the blanks is still long and burdensome. Under the FairTax, individuals never file a tax return again, ever! Under the flat tax, the payroll tax would be retained and income tax withholding would still be with us. Under the FairTax, the payroll tax, which is a larger and more regressive tax burden for most Americans than is the income tax, is repealed. Under the FairTax, what you earn is what you keep. No more withholding taxes; no more income tax.
Notwithstanding flat tax proponents’ honorable intentions, income tax reform has been less than a success in the past. Congress has tried to reform the income tax again and again, with the result being greater complexity and, generally, higher rates. The problem is the income tax, and it is time to stop tinkering with it.
Flat tax supporters have made major political attempts to pass their reform, including the efforts of former Majority Leader Dick Armey and presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and yet their efforts have not progressed politically for several years. With every debate, the flat tax loses grassroots and congressional support to the FairTax. It is time to junk the entire income tax system and start over with a tax system that is more appropriate for a free society and better able to meet the needs of the information age.
The sales tax is a familiar tax, being a major source of revenue in 45 states and the District of Columbia. It is true, however, that no post-industrial nation, until now, has ever repealed its income tax and replaced it with a federal retail sales tax. However, England did repeal its detested income tax upon the defeat of Napoleon and enjoyed the fastest, longest expansion of its economy in its long history. An expansion that ended only with the — you guessed it — re-imposition of an income tax.
No other country has a system of government like ours, and no other country has led the world in so many fields as ours. It was France and Germany that forced the imposition of a VAT in addition to income taxes across the European Community. Shall we follow France’s lead?
In contrast, we can observe the Irish Miracle that stems from their refusal to join the EU members in imposing high tax rates and their choice to follow their own path on taxation. Thus, we should simply strive to have the best tax system, period.
Passing the original 16th Amendment and the income tax wasn’t easy and repealing the income tax and the 16th Amendment won’t be easy either. That is why the FairTax has undertaken to build a grassroots movement and grassroots alliances to support the effort. When the FairTax generates unprecedented economic growth in the first few months of its effective date, citizens nationwide will make it clear to Washington that they want to make the change permanent. But this will only happen when the American people rally behind the effort, throw off the yoke, and demand rectification of 90 years of wrongs done by the income tax.
The FairTax reduces rather than increases the problem of tax evasion. The increased fairness, transparency, and legitimacy of the system induces more compliance. The roughly 90-percent reduction in filers enables tax administrators more narrowly and effectively to address noncompliance and increases the likelihood of tax evasion discovery. The relative simplicity of the FairTax promotes compliance. Businesses need answer only one question to determine the tax due: How much was sold to consumers? Finally, because tax rates decrease, tax evasion is less profitable; and because of the dramatic reduction in the number of tax filers, tax evaders are more easily monitored and caught under the FairTax system.
The FairTax will, for the first time, tax undocumented workers who now evade U.S. income and payroll taxes. Under the FairTax, all persons living in the U.S. pay taxes, whether they are here legally or illegally.
Under our current tax system, many non-citizens do not pay income and payroll taxes, even though they are here earning wages and are legally required to do so. They may also be receiving benefits in the form of health care, education, roads, and much more. Under the FairTax, both lawful and unlawful residents will pay taxes when they purchase goods and services for consumption here; however, only lawful residents are eligible to receive the FairTax prebate which effectively eliminates taxes on spending up to the poverty level.
Unlawful residents will be paying a rate of 23 cents on every dollar spent since they are not eligible for the FairTax prebate. The only way to get the prebate and not pay taxes on the purchase of essential goods and services is to become a lawful resident. In this way, the FairTax helps promote legal immigration by ensuring that only lawful residents receive the prebate. It also ensures that unlawful residents contribute to the cost of providing services they receive.
The FairTax brings jobs back to America by allowing companies to operate on our soil tax free rather than paying the current corporate income tax of 35 percent. Under the FairTax, various economists have predicted higher economic growth ranging from 7 to 14 percent over the current system, more jobs, and higher wages. Such growth will create jobs for American citizens and legal immigrants.
For all of the money that pours into churches every Sunday and into a broad range of charities every day, only the 30 percent who itemize get any tax benefit. The other 70 percent have given and keep giving with no tax benefit whatsoever.
The FairTax allows people to make charitable contributions out of pre-tax dollars. Thus, those generally less affluent taxpayers who do not itemize see their cost of charitable giving go down under the FairTax.
Finally, the wealthy make decisions on charitable giving based on the cause. Once they have determined the cause is worthy, their contribution is structured to maximize the gift and minimize the tax. But the intention to give comes first; taxes simply determine the structure — rarely the amount — of the gift.
Under the FairTax, for an item to be considered “used” it must be:
(1) purchased before the FairTax is enacted, or
(2) the FairTax on the item must have been previously paid.
Let’s look at (1) above. Assume that Joe bought a new car in January of 2012. Let’s further assume that the FairTax went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Since Joe owned the car before the enactment of the FairTax, it is considered a “used” car. It has the taxes from the existing tax system embedded in its price. Therefore, when Joe sells that car to Bill, Bill will not owe tax on the transaction.
Now, let’s consider (2) above. The most common example is that Joe buys a new car for personal use and pays the FairTax on it. If Joe then sells his car to Bill, there would be no tax on it because the tax had already been paid. Let’s look at another example. Assume that Joe owns a flower shop business and buys a van to use when making deliveries to his customers. No tax is charged on purchases for business purposes so that the FairTax on goods sold to consumers does not double tax, or put a tax on a tax.
If Joe decides to sell the van to his friend Bill (who is not in business) for use as his personal vehicle, then it would be a taxable sale to Bill. Why? Because Joe did not pay tax when he bought the van for his flower shop. Since no FairTax has been previously paid on that van, it is not considered used and the sale to Bill would be taxable.
If later, Bill decided he did not like driving a van and sold it to someone else, it would not be a taxable sale. Why? Because the tax had been previously paid (when Bill bought it from Joe) making the item “used”; and not subject to tax.
Additionally, research shows that consumption is a more stable revenue source than income. If Social Security is reformed or privatized in a way that reduces the government’s need for revenue, then the FairTax rate can be reduced. For example, if a mandatory private savings program is implemented where people must save ten percent of their income and Social Security benefits are curtailed, then the FairTax rate can be reduced just as payroll taxes would be reduced.
Effective tax rates vs. stated tax rates
Because the 23-percent FairTax rate of $0.23 on every dollar spent is not imposed on necessities, an individual spending $30,000 pays an effective tax rate of only 15.5 percent, not 23 percent. That same individual will pay 17.3 percent of his or her income to federal taxes under current law. See effective tax rates for a family of four at various spending levels in Figure 2.
Finally, exempting one product or service, but not another, opens the door to the army of lobbyists and special interest groups that plague and distort our taxation system today. Those who have the money will send lobbyists to Washington to obtain special tax breaks in their own self-interest. This process causes unfair and inefficient distortions in our economy and must be stopped.
Under the FairTax, all Americans consume what they see as their necessities of life free of tax. While permitting no exemptions, the FairTax (HR25/S122) provides a monthly universal prebate to ensure that each family unit can consume tax free at or beyond the poverty level, with the overall effect of making the FairTax progressive in application. There is no marriage penalty as the couple gets twice the amount that a single adult receives.
While everyone pays the same tax rate at the cash register, the prebate results in effective tax rates (annual taxes paid divided by annual spending) that increase as the level of spending increases a progressive tax rate structure. For example, a person spending at the poverty level has a 0% effective tax rate, whereas someone spending at twice the poverty level has an effective tax rate of 11.5%, and so on.
In addition, U.S. companies with investments or plants abroad bring home overseas profits without the penalty of paying income taxes, thus resulting in more U.S. capital investment.
And at last, imports and domestic production are on a level playing field. Exported goods are not subject to the FairTax, since they are not consumed in the U.S.; but imported goods sold in the U.S. are subject to the FairTax because these products are consumed domestically.
Since the FairTax plan is revenue neutral, the same amount of resources is extracted from the economy as is extracted under current law. These funds are, however, extracted in a less economically damaging way. Every known economic projection shows the economy doing better, often much better, under the FairTax.
Because the economy grows, is more efficient and more productive, that means investment, wages, and consumption are higher than they are under the income tax.
As U.S. companies and individuals repatriate, on a tax-free basis, income generated overseas, huge amounts of new capital flood into the United States. With such a huge capital supply, real interest rates remain low. Additionally, other international investors will seek to invest here to avoid taxes on income in their own countries, thereby further spurring the growth of our own economy.
But the heavy compliance costs of the income tax are like an anchor holding back economic growth. We have nothing to show for the $265 billion (greater than the current federal deficit — $205 billion) that we spend each year measuring, tracking, sheltering, documenting, and filing our annual income. Surely these valuable labor and capital resources can be employed more productively — for example, in following the money trails left by terrorist, drug, and other criminal enterprises, rather than in tracking every American wage earner.
Today, the reason why military personnel don’t pay sales taxes on purchases from commissaries and exchanges is because the sales tax is levied by the state in which the base is geographically located, and states do not have the authority to levy taxes on military installations under federal jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, purchasing goods at military exchanges is not actually tax free. Economic studies show that up to 20 percent of the cost of goods and services is due to embedded income and payroll taxes. They are part of the cost of doing business, so the business has to build them into its pricing structure in order to cover costs and stay in business.
Although the Fair Tax Act does not exempt purchases at military exchanges and commissaries, the FairTax prebate ensures that no military personnel pay taxes on the necessities of life. Each military household receives a monthly prebate check based on family size which pays the federal sales taxes on spending up to the poverty level. For example, a family of four will receive a monthly prebate check of $525 at the beginning of the month ($6,297 per year) which pays the FairTax on annual spending of $27,380. Providing tax relief by means of the prebate makes tax enforcement much easier, and it keeps the tax rate as low as possible, whereas exempting various categories of items or persons would raise the tax rate about 4 percentage points for everybody.
With the FairTax, mortgage interest rates fall by about 25 percent (about 1.75 points) as bank overhead falls; this is a huge savings for consumers. For example, on a $150,000, thirty-year home mortgage at an interest rate of 7.00 percent, the monthly mortgage payment is $999.12 for principal and interest. On that same mortgage at a 5.25 percent interest rate, the monthly payment is $830.01. Over 30 years, the 1.75-percent decrease in interest rates in this instance results in a $60,879 cost savings to the consumer. Finally, first-time buyers save for that down payment much faster, as savings are not taxed.
Under the FairTax, home ownership is a possibility for many who have never had that option under the income tax system. Lower interest rates, the repeal of the income tax, the repeal of all payroll taxes, and the prebate mean that people have more money to spend and have an increased opportunity to become homeowners.
Additionally, some erroneously believe that people who have invested in Roth IRAs will never pay taxes on this money again. They may not know it, but they are paying corporate income taxes, employer payroll taxes, plus the associated compliance costs that are hidden in the price of every retail purchase they make. Under the FairTax, these hidden taxes are driven out of retail prices. And note, they can determine the amount of tax they pay through their own lifestyle choices.
Furthermore, used goods are not taxed because they have already been taxed once — when they were new. Therefore senior citizens, like all Americans, do not lose purchasing power, but gain it instead. Moreover, the FairTax preserves the purchasing power of Social Security benefits, and seniors receive a monthly prebate so they don’t pay taxes on the purchase of necessities. Tax-deferred investments get a one-time windfall. Savings invested in any long-term, income-generating asset such as a stock, real estate, or a long-term bond that can’t be called, increase substantially in value. Finally, complex estate planning is an artifact of an earlier age.
Some erroneously believe that people who live exclusively on Social Security pay no taxes. They may not know it, but they are paying hidden corporate income taxes and employer payroll taxes whenever they buy anything. Under the FairTax, seniors pay $0.23 out of every dollar they choose to spend on new goods and services.
Plus, seniors, like everyone else, receive a monthly prebate, in advance of purchases, for taxes paid on the cost of necessities which more than pays for all of the taxes they would pay if they received the average Social Security benefit amount and spent it all. If seniors choose to work, they are freed from regressive payroll taxes, the federal income tax on wages, and the compliance burdens associated with each. They pay no more hidden taxes on goods or services, and used goods are tax free. There is no income tax on their Social Security benefits.
The income tax imposed on investment income and pension benefits or IRA withdrawals is repealed. Pension funds, IRAs, and 401(k) plans had assets of $12 trillion in 2004. An income tax deduction was taken for contributions to most of these plans. All beneficiaries and owners of these plans expected to pay income tax on them upon withdrawal, but are not required to do so under the FairTax.
All owners of existing homes experience large capital gains due to the repeal of the income tax and implementation of the FairTax Plan. Seniors have dramatically higher home ownership rates than other age groups (81 percent for seniors compared to 65 percent on average). Homes are often a family’s largest asset. Gains are likely to be in the range of 20 percent.
The FairTax makes the economy much more dynamic and prosperous. Consequently, federal tax revenues grow. This makes it less likely that federal budget pressures require Medicare or Social Security benefit cuts.
Is it fair for rich people to get the exact same FAIRtax rebate from the federal government as the poorest person in America?
Now, let’s look at a middle-income married couple with no children under the FairTax — if they spend $50,000, they pay $6,803 net of their prebate for an effective tax rate of 13.6 percent. The effective tax rate increases as spending increases, but never exceeds 23 percent!
In contrast, if this same couple earns $50,000 in wages today under the current tax system, they pay $4,093 in income taxes and $3,825 in payroll taxes for a total of $7,918 in taxes (15.8 percent) — a tax burden 14.1 percent higher than under the FairTax. In addition, their employer pays another $3,825 in payroll taxes. Most economists agree that the employer payroll tax is actually borne by employees in the form of lower wages. Looked at this way, this couple is paying $11,743 (23.5 percent) in taxes today, which doesn’t even include the hidden taxes they pay every time they make a purchase.
Finally, let’s look at a low-income couple that spends at the poverty level under the FairTax — they pay no net FairTax at all. Today, under the income tax system, they not only pay 15 percent in payroll taxes, but they also pay hidden taxes — arising from corporate taxes, private sector compliance costs, and payroll taxes passed on to consumers and embedded in the price of everything they buy.
Under the federal income tax, slow economic growth and recessions have a disproportionately adverse impact on lower-income families. Breadwinners in these families are more likely to lose their jobs, are less likely to have the resources to weather bad economic times, and are more in need of the initial employment opportunities that a dynamic, growing economy provides. Retaining the present tax system makes economic progress needlessly slow, thus harming low-income people the most.
In contrast, the FairTax dramatically improves economic growth and wage rates for all, but especially for lower-income families and individuals. In addition to receiving the monthly FairTax prebate, these taxpayers are freed from regressive payroll taxes, the federal income tax, and the compliance burdens associated with each. They pay no more business taxes hidden in the price of goods and services, and used goods are tax free.