I just put the finishing touches on my taxes for yet another year. It’s one of those annual events that I look forward to as much as having a tooth pulled. As a pastor, I have to keep tons of records of just about every little thing I spend so I can claim it at the end of the year. Over the years, I’ve developed a system that allows me to scan receipts, code them, and then enter them into a spreadsheet I total at the end of each year. Still, the process take hours. Over the course of a year, I’d love to know how many hours are wasted by doing this.
Five years ago, I picked up Steve Forbes’ book on the “Flat Tax Revolution” and have become a disciple of the plan ever since. Critics abound but they do so at EVERY proposal to fix the tax system to make it simpler and easier to work with. Mike Huckabee took a lot of flack for the FAIR tax proposal he was pushing during the Republican primaries in the last election. Here’s why I like Forbes’ plan:
It’s simple. People like simple. It’s in our nature. Apple made a killing with it’s iPod largely because there was one control to navigate and little else. Google’s home page has a lot of white space because they value simple. Our tax code, on the other hand, is anything but. I pay hundreds each year just to file my taxes. Why? Because I want them done right. The tax code for ministers has several little things in it here and there so I hire a company that specializes in preparing tax returns for ministers. They are worth the money given our current tax code but I would love to have the option to file my taxes on a postcard sized form like the one Forbes is holding on his book.
It’s fast. Filling out the Forbes’ tax form takes less than 10 minutes. I could have this filed in a day and not have to worry about if all of my deductions were included, how many forms I filed, etc.
It’s fair. Forbes spreads the taxes out over the entirety of our populace. I’m sure some tweaking would be required but in the end, I think it’s great that he allows the people to make some decisions as to where their money goes as opposed to handing an inordinate percentage of their wealth over to someone else.
There’s so much more that could be said here but I hope at some point, our government gets wise enough to rework the current tax system and make it easier for all. I know I would benefit if they did. I believe in paying my taxes on time and in the proper amounts. Many times I worry about spending some income for fear that I might have made a mistake and have to pay it at some point in the future. A flat tax would alleviate the worry, be easier to use, and I think in the long run it would bring greater revenue to the government to fund the programs that drive our nation.