Thanks to a punitive “worldwide” approach to taxation, we have needless conflicts with other nations, leading the United States to side with high-tax governments and persecute low-tax nations.
But the impact on civil liberties and constitutional rights may be how the internal revenue code does the greatest damage to America.
In part, this involves the loss of basic rights. Our Constitution, for instances, guarantees the presumption of innocence. But that fundamental freedom has been thrown out the window to help the IRS enforce a bad tax system. If the IRS decides you’ve done something wrong or not coughed up enough cash, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
Now there’s a new – and very disturbing – development. A reckless federal judge has decided to let the IRS go on a fishing expedition of California real estate records because it is theoretically possible that some people haven’t reported information on their tax returns. Here are some details from a report at Forbes.
A federal district court judge has given the Internal Revenue Service permission to serve a “John Doe” summons on the California State Board of Equalization demanding the names of residents who transferred property to their children or grandchildren for little or no money, from 2005 to 2010. The IRS wants those names as part of a crackdown on what it believes is the widespread failure to file required tax returns when real property is passed between family members. …officials of California’s BOE said state law prohibited them from disclosing the information without a court approved summons. …With a normal summons, the IRS seeks information about a specific taxpayer whose identity it knows. A John Does summons, by contrast, allows the IRS to get the names of all taxpayers who are members of a certain group.
To put this in context and to understand how sinister this is, imagine if some agency of government decided that to comb through the records of all African-Americans because some blacks commit crime? Or they decided to investigate all Occupy Wall Street protesters because of the crimes committed by some of the campers? Or how about snooping on the private lives of all tea partiers simply because the government doesn’t like dissent?
We would all agree (hopefully!) that these steps would represent unjustified fishing expeditions. And if there is any justice left in our system, the courts would stop the government from infringing our rights.
But, for some reason, the Constitution gets thrown under the bus when it comes to taxation.
The answer, as you hopefully agree, is to rip up the entire tax code and replace it with a simple and fair flat tax. This video explains.
America already has a tax code that ranks in the bottom half of the “tax oppression index.” If we don’t fix the IRS soon, don’t be surprised if we wind up in last place at this rate.
Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy at the Cato Institute.Be the first to read Daniel J. Mitchell’s column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.