- The Tax Man Cometh, All Too Often
- April 1998
- Dear Friends
I remember paying my first income tax as a teenager, trying to make a living to go to college and, ultimately, to medical school. That I should have to pay a portion of my hard-earned money every March, (the billing date at that time) always troubled me. It seemed to me that kids who were trying to work their way through college should have an advantage. Not so in my era.
Now, of course, under so called "tax reform" there are breaks for educational purposes which include special education and advanced study. The word reform itself interests me because it admits that there is something wrong with the entire process of taxation. Indeed there is, as anybody who stops to think about it knows. The money is taken often against our will with the consequence of imprisonment if we don't pay. It is then used by the government any way it sees fit. Often money is wasted, spent on programs and actions that actually oppose the philosophy, and sometimes the religion, of those forced into this obligation.
A cry for fairness in taxation comes from many quarters. What is fair to one, is a burdensome penalty to another. If we were to truly have a fair tax, everyone would pay at the same rate. High income earners would still pay much more in absolute tax than low income earners. Certainly a level tax rate would approach the concept of fairness. It seems to me that taxing a student's modest income shouldn't be required at all. A fair and equitable tax would help eliminate the IRS, CPA's in most situations, and certainly many lawyers. Consumption taxes could be collected at the point of purchase and service. A pragmatic approach to taxation could be developed, which could be amazingly fair to everyone. Flat tax, anyone?
I'll be in touch next month, if I can just get my tax form mailed in time!
- Thomas Petty, MD