Paying Our Fair Share

According to the rulebooks, America has a progressive tax system. The way things are supposed to work is that all of us pay to fund our government in proportion to our ability to pay. Wealthy people and corporations, who have more ability to pay and who have benefitted the most from America’s policies and economy contribute the most, while the poor who need every dollar they can get to provide for their families pay the least. This is a good system. Nobody likes to pay taxes, and the rich will complain the same as anyone else when it comes to tax time, but it means that our government has money to work and nobody pays more than they can afford.

However, this is not how our tax system actually works. Instead, through a combination of absurd loopholes added to the tax code over the years by lobbyists and through hiding their profits in offshore accounts, America’s wealthiest people and our most successful corporations end up paying a lower tax rate than ordinary working citizens. And the wealthiest among us, who have the resources to throw money at top notch accountants, often end up spending nothing at all on taxes. If they are especially clever, they can actually MAKE money from the tax system – Wal-Mart is subsidized by the taxpayers to the tune of $7.8 billion per year! Not coincidentally, Wal-Mart’s owners, the Waltons, are the richest family in America.

This is fundamentally, infuriatingly unfair, and Americans know it. As middle and working class families are increasingly squeezed by inflation and wage stagnation, as they struggle to put food on the table and, if they’re lucky, put a little aside for their retirement or their children’s educations, they have all along been paying their fair share of the tax bill. On the other hand, the 1%, the wealthiest among us, those who have inherited fortunes and spend their lives lounging on private beaches or partying with other elites, have paid lobbyists to create a system that lets them avoid contributing to the nation who has given them so much success.

Americans are not going to stand for this much longer. The last five years have seen populist movements arrive both on the political left and right as Americans express their anger at the rich who are pillaging our country. I have previously discussed Nick Hanauer’s essay, The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats. If we want to avoid an outright class war, then things need to change, and the first step in changing things is comprehensive and radical tax reform.

If I am elected in 2016, one of my very first acts in office will be to introduce a bill to Congress that contains a greatly simplified tax code. The first and most important step will be to close all the loopholes and incentives that allow the 1% to avoid paying their fair share, and to more heavily tax corporations who are posting record profits (including heavy tax penalties for corporations who are outsourcing in an effort to avoid American taxes). Ensuring that the highest earners pay their fair share of taxes means we will then be able to lower the tax rates for everyone, putting more money in the pockets of working and middle class families. Even the rich (at least those who were already doing their duty and paying their taxes) will benefit from lower tax rates.

I want to live in a United States with a fair and simple tax code, one that doesn’t give the wealthiest 1% the tools to pillage and plunder while forcing an unfair burden on those least able to pay. If you agree with me, I hope you’ll join me in 2016 by casting your write-in vote for Art Drew for President of the United States.


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