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The April 15th Challenge
[April 15, 2003]

By Nicholas Provenzo

Every April 15th, millions of taxpayers attempt to be in compliance with the US tax laws before the IRS’s midnight deadline. Navigating through arcane tax law provisions, hunting down exemptions, searching for lost receipts, every April 15th become a yearly reminder of just how intrusive and backwards the federal tax system has become.

And for those who own the government money, and sometimes a lot of money, April 15th is a day of outright fear and anxiety, where once wonders were they are going to find the funds to keep Uncle Sam at bay. Like many of us, I know all to well what that feels like.

Yet the current tax scheme of income taxes, payroll taxes, estate and gift taxes, and excise taxes seems unlikely to change any time soon. Nor, despite Republican control of the Congress, does a decrease in government spending seem to be forthcoming.

The taxpayer is left abandoned with three conundrums. The tax code is unfairly complex, it taxes too much, and it taxes unfairly.

Yet despite all the abuses, it can hardly be said that Americans are in an outrage over today’s tax system. On the contrary, despite millions of man-hours spent attempting comply with the tax code, and accounting costs averaging $800 for every man, woman and child in America, and surveys that say 100 tax accounts filing the same tax return produce 100 different amounts for how much tax a person owes, and just the simple fact that almost as a matter of principle, the government wastes tax dollars, there is little cry for reform. America is a population that is yoked and willing.

When I got my first start in political activism, I worked as a tax reform advocate. I can tell you right now why we find ourselves in the rut we are in—most people accept the current tax system like they accept bad weather. The tax code is seen as metaphysical given, as certain as death, and just as impossible to challenge.

So on this tax day—consider this message: you deserve better. You deserve to keep what you earn by your own intelligence and hard work. You deserve a government that protects your rights—not one that robs Peter to give to Paul. And when you pay for the cost of government, you deserve a system that is simple, treats everyone the same, and doesn’t attempt to micromanage your life or ask you to reveal your every intimate detail.

I could tell you about different tax systems with different advantages, but at the end of the day, that’s almost beside the point. Unless you think you deserve better as a matter of right, and are filling to fight for it, I’d be wasting my time. That the tax code is broke should be obvious. That we can do better should be just as obvious.

So I address this point to all Objectivists and all those who have enough pride to want to keep what they rightfully earn: Put your money where you mouth is. We all pay into a system that is bankrupt. Let’s start paying for the change necessary to fix system.

If you gave just five percent of what you pay in taxes to pro-freedom groups (I can think of one right away that would be a good recipient, and I happen to work for it) we could challenge the status quo in a meaningful way. Guys in Boston dumped tea over less. Why not ask yourself today what are you willing to do?

We might not be able to change the culture with a click of our fingers. But we certainly, and in our lifetime, can change the IRS.

 

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