Reduce cheating by getting rid of income tax entirely

Time magazine reported recently that the estimated tax gap — the amount of money the IRS fails to collect due to misfiling or tax cheaters — is an estimated $600 billion. The fact that this money goes uncollected ultimately increases tax rates and the amount of money that you and I pay.

A 2002 study by the Government Accountability Office, cited by the Time article, showed that “fifty-six percent of [tax] returns prepared by a paid preparer had errors in comparison to only forty-seven percent prepared by the taxpayer.” In short, more than 50 percent of tax returns being filed in the 2002 study were wrong, and we “only” had 53,280 pages of tax code back then. Fast-forward to 2012 and the code has grown to more than 73,000 pages. That’s taxation without comprehension, and it is only expanding the tax gap.

Studies show that simplifying the code leads to better compliance. That makes sense, but what makes a lot more sense is to throw out the entire income tax code and switch to a national retail sales tax like that proposed by the FairTax Bill (H.R. 25 / S. 122).

The FairTax is simply a different way to collect taxes — by taxing consumption rather than income. Under the FairTax plan, the government would collect the same amount of money without the complexities of the income tax. In fact, the FairTax bill is only 133 pages. The number of “filers” would be reduced from 150 million individual returns to simple sales reports from approximately 20 million businesses.

Yes, it’s possible to cheat a sales tax, but unlike income tax, where it takes only one person to cheat by not reporting or under-reporting his or her income, a sales tax takes two people to cheat — the person selling and the person buying. In addition, the bill specifically includes provisions to reward whistle-blowers, which makes it a little less likely people will cheat. Not to mention, well over 80 percent of retail sales are through big chain stores like Wal-Mart or Target, and they are not going to risk their business by cheating the system. Used items are not taxed under the FairTax, so there’s no compliance issue there.

After 100 years of the income tax, it’s time we do something that makes sense. Tweaking the code hasn’t worked. Let’s throw it out and switch to the FairTax.

Cameron Park, Calif.

More background checks for gun sales needed
From Anna Hamilton

While the Brady Law requires criminal background checks for gun sales at gun stores, these checks are not required at gun shows, online sales and other venues where unlicensed sellers operate.

Right now in most states, felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill can walk into a gun show, flea market or even log on to the Internet and buy weapons from unlicensed sellers, no questions asked.

Congress should require a simple criminal background check on gun sales. The Brady Law has stopped more than 2 million felons and domestic abusers from getting guns at gun stores. Now it’s time to finish the job.

Completing the necessary paperwork for a background checks takes mere minutes, and more than 91 percent of these checks are completed instantaneously. In addition, there are exemptions from a check between family members and hunters and sportsmen who temporarily want to exchange firearms while hunting or participating in sports shooting activities. 

I strongly support the Second Amendment. However, this right also requires basic responsibility, and as a society we are responsible for keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Washington, D.C.

Politicians making all the wrong decisions
From Norm Stewart

The stock market is at an all-time high. Companies show all-time high profits. Why are politicians, bought and paid for by these companies, trying to lower the minimum wage, repeal healthcare for almost all citizens and destroy Social Security, which is self-paid-for and will be so for decades. They want to gut Medicare, the only insurance that is loved by almost everyone on it. The record profits come by eliminating jobs and sending work overseas where labor costs a fraction of what it costs here. It is time to replace those crooked politicians, impose tax cuts for companies that return jobs to the USA and place higher taxes on those companies that overflow with money while exporting jobs overseas as the country suffers. We must get our country back on the right track.

Aventura, Fla.