Hey, Candidates – Fix the Tax Code, Help the Country

by Diane Dimond on October 10, 2016

It should not have taken a leak of part of Donald Trump’s 20-year-old tax returns to highlight what’s wrong with America’s tax system. For decades US citizens have felt the acute unfairness. Who hasn’t looked at their tax refund and wished there was a way to escape the burden? 

The way the tax code is written now people like Donald Trump — and all other Americans who suffer through a year of business losses – are allowed an escape. They get to deduct the amount of their business loss from future tax liability.

Report: Trump Paid No Federal Income Tax For 18 Years

Report: Trump Paid No Federal Income Tax For 18 Years

Trump did not break any laws when he claimed a reported $916 million business loss two decades ago. He took advantage of what any other business person who has gone through a rough patch is afforded. Granted, his write-off was much bigger than most. But let’s get past Trump’s taxes. Let’s talk about the system itself.

The tax code we all labor under was first put together in 1939. There were some major revisions added in 1954 and 1986. And, naturally, over the years it has been tinkered with.. At last count the Internal Revenue Code is about 4 million words long. It is so full of archaic and inane regulations I dare say there isn’t one person in Washington who can be considered an expert on it.

Rand Paul: The Tax Code is T H I S Big - 74,000 Pages

Former POTUS Candidate Rand Paul: The Tax Code is T H I S Big – 74,000 Pages

It’s time for a complete overhaul of the US tax system.

Like many Americans I cannot decide who to vote for in November’s presidential election. To put it in the nicest terms I can muster: I find both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump lacking in the attributes I want in a Commander in Chief. But if either comes up with a concrete proposal to make our tax system more simple and equitable I’m there.

Which Candidate Will Overhaul the Current Tax Code?

Neither Candidate Has Offered a Plan to Overhaul the Current Tax Code

Here’s a few starter suggestions. Number one, let’s go after everyone who owes back taxes and if it all possible get them to pony up. What a concept! It was reported last year, for example, that government workers owe a collective $3.5 billion in unpaid taxes. Gee, it’s not like Uncle Sam doesn’t know where these people work – they work for the government!

Next, a newly released study of Fortune 500 companies concludes that trillions of dollars in corporate earnings are currently being held in off shore accounts and sheltered from U.S. taxes. According to three consumer and taxation groups if all those companies paid up on their protected profits the US Treasury would get a stupendous $717.8 billion windfall.

That’s a lot, but realize our deficit is currently running at almost $20 trillion.

If Only the IRS Could Collect All the Overdue Taxes

If Only the IRS Could Collect All the Overdue Taxes

Only candidate Trump seriously discusses the need to get American companies to stop with this tax dodge but he fails completely in explaining how he would change things.

And finally, since my space here is limited, I will offer up my favorite idea: A flat tax. An across-the-board tax on individuals and profitable businesses. Everyone paying something, no one getting away with paying nothing. Add in a break for families under the poverty level but have everyone else pay, say, 10 or 15% of their earned income for the year. About the only palatable exception, to my mind, would be the mortgage interest deduction since that is already calculated in to the price of a home. Imagine, more Americans chipping in, no one able to skirt their tax responsibility. It couldn’t help but be a more equitable system.

Everyone Paying the Same Percentage - No One Paying Nothing

Everyone Paying the Same Percentage – No One Paying Nothing

This would require a complete overhaul of our massively complicated tax system and I wonder if there is a politician alive who has the guts to propose and push through such a program. It could be one of the most important economic stimulus measures this country has ever seen.

But we have two candidates running for president who have forgotten what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.

Donald Trump says he is worth hundreds of millions, or is it billions, or is it a gazillion dollars? No one knows for sure and even if he were to release his full income tax returns we still might not be able to figure it out.

Hillary Clinton once famously moaned that she and her husband left the White House in 2001 “not only dead broke, but in debt.” The Clintons are now worth an estimated $111 million.

I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the tax preparers for both the Clintons and the Trumps take advantage of as many IRS loopholes as legally possible.

So, no matter how much either candidate talks about wanting to help average Americans, they have no personal incentive to erase the U.S. tax code and start over again.

That’s a damn shame. The country would be better for it.



Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 12:17 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Charles Thomas Frates writes:

70,000+ pages of tax codes. All to the benefit of the wealthy elites and their holdings and their corporations. Billions of dollars of American money earmarked for taxes lay offshore in tax havens. Millions of dollars invested by lobbyists to our lawmakers to continue the loopholes unavailable to 90% of the American population. Social services cut. Education funding cut. No more free clinics or mental health clinics. No comprehensive infrastructure programs to repair our aging cities. Jobs offshored. Prisons for profit. Who caused this? Not you. Not me. Them.
Every election cycle the American public is told by candidates they will fix/improve the tax codes. But the stack of pages in the tax code grows higher. You want change? Eliminate Citizens United. Put a cap on lobbying in Washington. Enact law that offshore accounts are deemed un-American and therefore any company who practices this is not allowed to give any money towards political elections. Lift the cap on Social Security income limits. Enact term limits for Senators and Congressmen. Institute a Flat Tax. Or The Fair Tax. Eliminate the IRS. The American People are sickened by the cronyism, the ‘pay to play’, the bribes from lobbyists, the ‘Old Guard’ aka ‘The Establishment’ cabal in Washington.
This country needs true “Public Servants”, not fat-cat politicians with six-figure incomes from sitting in Congress with a retirement promising a Board of Directors seat or lobbying friends on the Hill earning millions, with a lifetime of free Cadillac Health Insurance and a retirement package of 80% of income on top of all that.
This country needs to clean house. We need smart, honest, patriotic men and women to run for Congress with a firm level headed mindset on enacting change for good…not greed.

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Mr. Frates:

Wow. Very well said. Very well indeed!

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 12:19 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Frank Andazola writes:

Dear Diane: Both candidates are a nightmare and it scares me is that one of them is going to win. I see either economic disaster or diplomatic disaster. We really need a strong moderate third party. Until then I’m supporting Gary Johnson.
How I would love to hear a candidate say, “The government isn’t the answer to all of our problems… It’s up to use to make our lives better.”
I quote Woody Allen to express my pessimism about the election. “We are standing at a crossroads. One path leads to
misery and utter despair. The other path to total annihilation. Let us pray we have the wisdom to make the right choice.”
Sincerely yours,
Franklin Andazola

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Facebook Friend Irene Smith writes:

They should … it’s too complicated and cumbersome –could be much simpler and more efficient!

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Facebook Friend Pat Kelley Wittorf writes:

I’d like to see a study done to determine the feasibility of a national sales tax in lieu of income tax. It seems to me like it would work. That way everybody would pay their “fair share”. Kenya would pay his ‘fair share’ on the $4M ring and $mega$ weddings and I’d pay my fair share on the weekly groceries I buy at Walmart. Also, the people who work “under the table” and “off the books” would be paying their ‘fair share” when they spend THEIR earnings. I wonder what percent would have to be charged based on the annual $$ spent across the country to equal the income tax paid.

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Great questions, Pat.

I really think its way past time for an open discussion about how (not IF) we should change the tax system in America! Don’t you?

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 1:11 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Joe Stehling writes:


As usual it was a great article but I would offer that you consider the Fair Tax. Implementing a Fair Tax/consumption tax would not let anyone get away from paying taxes. Drug dealers, illegals and others being paid under the table would pay. The IRS could be reduced in size to only monitor retailers to assure they were applying and paying the tax. There have been proposals that would help the really poor but no one can escape.

Joe Stehling
Angel Fire NM

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Facebook Friend Joan Stepp Smith writes:

A consumption tax makes a lot of sense.

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

The “fairness” of the tax code is directly related to the number of ZEROS you have at the end of your BANK BALANCE….
Anybody DISAGREE?????

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Nope ~ DD

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Facebook Friend Sandi Chaykin Teller replies:

My thoughts exactly. Apparently Warren Buffett’s too! So nice to hear him step up and call Trump on his lie

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Facebook Friend Pat Alder writes:

When the airplane company I get my retirement from pays ZERO in taxes while I pay 15% on mine…there is something really wrong!

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Twitter Pal DeeWA2008 writes:

@DiDimond I’m thinking DT dad told him to do the 900+mil loss so he could that. What exactly were all the losses were? Only DT KNOWS i spos

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Twitter Pal @Porche73 writes:

@DiDimond nope! Neither one of them will do ONE THING to change it.

Diane Dimond October 10, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Facebook Friend Darlene Redinger Fisher writes:

Get rid of the IRS completely!!!

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