Flat Tax. Is it good or bad? Are we ready for it? Is it even possible that such a radical change in the current structure can be voted through?
When Steve Forbes ran for office he was an advocate of a flat tax. A 17% flat tax if I recall correctly. Now, Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan takes the flat tax a step further, a very low 9% income tax along with a 9% sales tax.
At first blush, it looks like most of those who currently pay no federal tax at all will see an increase, but Cain points out that this covers the payroll tax as well, so even if you have no federal tax, you are paying 7.65% for social security and medicare. I think the idea of a tax like this might be appealing, after all, the simplicity alone is elegant, but the transition would be a tough hurdle.
What becomes of those who converted their IRAs to Roth IRAs to avoid higher future taxes? They paid 15,25, even 33%, and now would find that their rate is now 9%. Obama and others are currently on a “tax the rich” crusade, looking to bump their marginal rates further and remove their favorable cap gains rates. Cain’s plan has no cap gain at all. I can only wonder what the reaction would be from Main Street if the fat cats managed to keep their income treated at capital gains and reduced their tax burden even further. I know, this can be legislated, and treated as ordinary income. Still, it goes counter to the concept of the Buffet plan, that the fairest tax system is a progressive one and higher earners should pay a higher rate.
The interesting thing to me is that Cain has calculated that compliance, enforcement, and collection of taxes cost the US $430 billion per year more than his plan would. Sounds like the IRS would have to plan a large downsizing if this plan goes through. On the other hand it would sure make planning easier, removing all the variables that change every year, that patches, fixes, extensions, et cetera. Unintended consequences aside (and you know there will be some big ones) I’d like to see if Cain’s plan gains any traction.
What do you think? Would a 9% flat tax appeal to you? No itemizing, no deductions at all?