We Must Put an End to the Biggest Republican Lie About Taxes

flat-tax-ben-carsonOne of the biggest go-to lines for many Republicans when talking about the economy is to bash our tax code. Granted, it is an insanely complicated mess that even many in the tax industry struggle to understand. For decades, “simplifying the tax code” has been a talking point pushed by almost every Republican in this country, especially those running for president.

The problem is, like with everything else tax-related, whenever Republicans talk about taxes you can always bet that their plans benefit the rich the most.

Sure, under many of these flat tax proposals the average American might see their tax rate drop 5-10 percent (if that). Meanwhile, rich people would see their tax rates cut – in many instances – by more than 20 percent.

Hell, Ben Carson’s “biblical tithing” tax plan actually increases taxes on the poor because it would require nearly everyone to pay at least 10 percent of their income. That’s the catch with a flat tax – basically all deductions are eliminated. So, while many people with incomes below a certain level are almost never required to pay any income tax (often getting a refund) under Carson’s plan that would no longer be the case for millions. His excuse? He believes that when people pay into something, it provides them with more self-worth. Yeah, I want to see him tell that to someone struggling to get by who would see 10 percent of their income vanish under his plan.

Even Fox News’ Chris Wallace called out how disastrous Carson’s plan would be for poor and middle class Americans. To say nothing about the $1 trillion annual deficit it would create.

A flat tax is nothing more than a scam meant to give the rich a huge tax break while shifting the burden to the poor and middle class. Either local taxes will be raised or vital programs middle class and poor Americans rely upon every day will experience massive cuts to compensate for the loss of tax revenue from these flat tax proposals.

But the truth is, all this rhetoric about our tax code coming from Republicans is a lie. Sure, our tax code is really complicated – but that’s not because of tax rates.

Here’s the truth: We have a progressive tax system based on seven – yes, just seven – tax brackets:

  • 10%
  • 15%
  • 25%
  • 28%
  • 33%
  • 35%
  • 39.6%

That’s it.

Now, are Republicans trying to say that these seven tax brackets are what’s making our tax code so complicated?

What makes our tax code so long and complicated is the lobbying that’s gone on for decades, adding deductions, loopholes and other accounting tricks (mostly by the rich) to avoid paying taxes.

Do you want to simplify our tax code to just a couple of sheets of paper? Get rid of the loopholes and deductions that the rich use to avoid paying what they’re supposed to pay in taxes.

I’ve seen Republicans stand on a debate stage and declare it’s unfair that big corporations and the rich have the resources to hire teams of lawyers and accountants to avoid paying taxes, which is why a flat tax makes sense.


They don’t have teams of lawyers and accountants spending all year trying to figure out their damn tax bracket. These people are paid to manipulate the deductions and loopholes that exist in our tax code.

There’s nothing overly complicated about our tax brackets. What complicates it are all the accounting tricks people and businesses try to get away with to hide income. Get rid of those and you instantly simplify our tax system.

That’s not why Republicans want a flat tax, and they know it. This is about masking a massive tax cut for the rich under the guise of “the evil and overly complicated IRS is out to hurt hardworking Americans with page after page of tax forms.”

You can fix all of that nonsense without doing a single thing to our tax rates. All they would have to do is pass legislation that strips away nearly all of these loopholes and accounting tricks rich people and businesses use to hide income and that would instantly simplify our entire tax system.

Then again, this has nothing to do with simplifying our taxes, because they can do that right now without touching a single tax rate.

Besides, whenever Republicans talk about income inequality being an issue – which it is – they’re admitting that trickle-down economics is a scam. We’re still dealing with historically low tax rates, yet for the past 40 years (GOP candidate Carly Fiorina’s own timeline) wages have become stagnant. If tax cuts created economic prosperity, the last thing we should be dealing with right now is rampant income inequality. Meanwhile, that’s exactly what we have thanks to the con of trickle-down economics.

As I’ve told Republicans before, you’re nuts if you trust a group of rich people who tell you that the path to economic prosperity is based upon giving the rich more massive tax cuts.


Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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