Someone sent me a link to a tax resister website that peddled a DVD instructional on how to "never pay income taxes again!". The pitch started with a bit of history; a cabal of government crooks and megarich bankers (of that criminally-inclined class that, according to my favorite other-side writer ren, conceived and wrote our Constitution) gathered to concoct a scheme to soak the broad shoulders of America and make themselves vastly more wealthy by levying what they assert to be an unconstitutional tax on income.
There is definitely something to this. The courts bend over backwards to support the income tax, and they punish with incongruous severity the people who act in opposition to it.
An income tax is wrong, is targeted to the wrong people (those with less inevitably pay more), but I like most of my countrymen, have been conditioned to accept is as a necessary evil. We need government after all, and somebody has to pay for it.
Taxes are a big issue, and if current economic conditions are any indication, they will be a much bigger issue in time for the next election - particularly the AMT.
But does there need to be an income tax at all?
Of all the ideas I've seen, the one with the least traction is the one that makes the most sense to me (funny how that keeps happening!): Eliminate the income tax entirely for individuals and businesses, but levy a flat sales tax on all goods but necessities (milk, eggs, butter, meat, clothing under $110/item, home energy, etc.)
But luxury goods: brand-burdened sneakers, cars, jewelry, plasma TVs, Playstations, and so on.
One major benefit to this would be that billions in undergroud revenue would be brought into the legit stream. Consider a drug dealer who rakes in a million dollars a year selling meth. None of that is taxed now - nor would it be under a flat tax or any other scheme, But when he used his ill-gotten booty to buy a gold-plated rolls royce for a million dollars, his income would effectively be taxed, and what has otherwise been a total loss of billions of dollars to an underground economy, is brought into the legitimate stream.
Poor and thrifty people could entirely escape taxation. Wealthy people would pay more. As it should be.
This would be a bonanza for the credit card and service companies, yet could act as a sort of protectionism as foreign-made goods generate unimaginable revenue.
There will still be plenty for the IRS to do - underground trade will emerge to get around these taxes too - but at least there will be a constitutional mandate for government fundraising, and all the questions of the ethical and moral correctness of an income tax will be put to rest.