I keep hearing those on the left saying that people must pay their "fair share". These are buzz words for "increase taxes". However, it is curious that with 49 percent of workers not paying any taxes at all with the heaviest burden falling mainly on high earners, the only group not paying their "fair share" are those who are not paying any taxes. Thus, this group does not have any skin in the game. Campaigns to lower taxes do not find empathy with those who pay no taxes and neither do campaigns to raise taxes. It seems to me that a minimum requirement of citizenship should be the paying of federal income taxes. This is why I am for a flat tax. A flat tax of 20 percent would provide the government with "revenues" sufficient to cover its expenditures - except with the current administration. It would also mandate that everyone have skin in the game. I know you will hear the hue and cry about taxing those with the lowest incomes, but that is no tragedy. Low income people receive subsidies through things like food stamps, housing subsidies and numerous welfare programs. Thus, although they will pay taxes, they will get the money back through these programs. However, they will now have an interest in any discussion on taxation. A flat tax is simple and elegant. First, eliminate the federal income tax. Second, count as income all earnings regardless of source. This is must preferable to the so-called "fair" tax which is a consumption tax. A consumption tax is hidden. This is bad because it is important for all to know exactly how much of their income goes to the government. A flat tax accomplishes this while the "fair" tax does not. So in order for people to pay their "fair share", everyone must pay.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com