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Jewish World Review
April 12, 2006
/ 14 Nissan, 5766
April, the most taxing month
It's April, so it's hard not to think about taxes. No matter what you feel about our tax system whether the rates are too high or too low, or whether the system, itself, is fair or unfair virtually everyone agrees the thing is an absolute mess and a national disgrace. Nobody understands it, including the people who try to administer it, and every time politicians simplify it, they add a few hundred extra pages to the already-undecipherable code.
Of course, there will never be real simplification, because too many people have a vested interest in the mess they've helped create. Lawyers and accountants and tax preparers make billions helping us sift through the IRS rubble, and, of course, the politicians love the opportunity to micromanage our activities by manipulating tax laws. There's a lot of power hidden in all those rules.
But I have an idea. It's a simple one, but one that would fundamentally change the relationship between the government and the governed. Get rid of the withholding tax! It's the worst idea in a system crawling with horrible ideas. When the government takes your money before you ever get it, it does two things. First, it make you forget it really is your money they're spending. And, even worse, our elected leaders forget where it comes from, too.
But imagine if every tax-paying American had to sit down once a week or once a month whatever the rules were to be and write checks to the Feds and to the good folks in their state capitals. What if we could actually see and touch and feel our wages before we sent a big hunk of them off to others to be spent as they see fit.
Can you imagine the change in the level of interest we would all take in government? Can you imagine the questions we would ask and the accountability we would demand? We tend to think of government spending in terms of millions and billions and even trillions. But what if we could think of it in terms of the hundreds or thousands each of us would contribute regularly? Those annual lists of pork barrel projects would seem a little less amusing and a lot more aggravating. It's enough to make a politician sweat.
Which is why it'll never happen.
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JWR contributor Pat Sajak is the recipient of three Emmys, a Peoplesí Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He's currently the host of Wheel of Fortune.
© 2006, Pat Sajak