Comments For The Record United States Senate Committee On Finance
By Michael G. Bindner – Center For Fiscal Equity
The Center for Fiscal Equity proposes a large ball solution with four major provisions:
- A Value Added Tax (VAT) to fund domestic military spending and domestic discretionary spending with a rate between 10% and 13%, which makes sure very American pays something.
- Personal income surtaxes on joint and widowed filers with net annual incomes of $100,000 and single filers earning $50,000 per year to fund net interest payments, debt retirement and overseas and strategic military spending and other international spending, with graduated rates between 5% and 25% in either 5% or 10% increments. Heirs would also pay taxes on distributions from estates, but not the assets themselves, with distributions from sales to a qualified ESOP continuing to be exempt.
- Employee contributions to Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) with a lower income cap, which allows for lower payment levels to wealthier retirees without making bend points more progressive.
- A VAT-like Net Business Receipts Tax (NBRT), which is essentially a subtraction VAT with additional tax expenditures for family support, health care and the private delivery of governmental services, to fund entitlement spending and replace income tax filing for most people (including people who file without paying), the corporate income tax, business tax filing through individual income taxes and the employer contribution to OASI, all payroll taxes for hospital insurance, disability insurance, unemployment insurance and survivors under age 60.
We have no proposals regarding environmental taxes, customs duties, excise taxes and other offsetting expenses, although increasing these taxes would result in a lower VAT.
American competitiveness is enhanced by enacting a VAT, as exporters can shed some of the burden of taxation that is now carried as a hidden export tax in the cost of their products. The NBRT will also be zero rated at the border to the extent that it is not offset by deductions and credits for health care, family support and the private delivery of governmental services.
Some oppose VATs because they see it as a money machine, however this depends on whether they are visible or not. A receipt visible VAT is as susceptible to public pressure to reduce spending as the FairTax is designed to be, however unlike the FairTax, it is harder to game. Avoiding lawful taxes by gaming the system should not be considered a conservative principle, unless conservatism is in defense of entrenched corporate interests who have the money to game the tax code.
Our VAT rate estimates are designed to fully fund non-entitlement domestic spending not otherwise offset with dedicated revenues. This makes the burden of funding government very explicit to all taxpayers. Nothing else will reduce the demand for such spending, save perceived demands from bondholders to do so – a demand that does not seem evident given their continued purchase of U.S. Treasury Notes.
Value Added Taxes can be seen as regressive because wealthier people consume less, however when used in concert with a high-income personal income tax and with some form of tax benefit to families, as we suggest as part of the NBRT, this is not the case.
Above is just a selection of Michael’s Blog ‘Confronting the Looming Fiscal Crisis‘. His Blog is an interesting read.