President Reagan's fascination with taxes has taken a new turn. He now finds the flat rate tax idea tempting. The flat rate tax is an income tax simplified to the point where everyone pays an equal percentage of tax, regardless of income. Unfortunately, nothing scares people in the United States so much as being equal.
Some computer wizard has it figured out that if everyone paid a flat 14 percent on what he earned, it would bring in approximately the same amount of money the government is now collecting. In addition, the amount of money the government would save in printing and distributing a tax form only about the size of a postcard would more than equal the fat pay raise which Congress recently voted itself.
Another benefit of the flat tax rate, which might not be immediately seen, is that it would make everyone feel wanted. There are a lot of people who feel left out of the present system.
Consider the unfortunate citizen who now is earning $1 million a year. Because of donations and various investments, he probably pays no taxes at all. Certainly this places him, intentionally or not, in the category of an outsider. Perhaps lonely. Unloved.
Understandably, bringing him back into the tax framework might seem to work an economic hardship at first. At 14 percent he would have to pay a whopping tax of $140,000 leaving him a skimpy $860,000 for necessary expenses. It would mean budgeting his money carefully. It might mean bagging his lunch for a few weeks. But in the end, involvement such as this would make him feel part of the family.
There is another class of person who may feel left out: the person earning only $10,000 a year. This poor fellow hasn't been paying any taxes either. His return to the role of wanted citizen is certainly a humanitarian effort on the part of President Reagan.
At 14 percent this person would have to come up with $1,400. This might seem like a lot at first, compared to the nothing he previously paid, but it should be pointed out that working with a simplified tax form is saving everybody money. By putting the money he saves out to work at 12 percent interest he could ease the burden considerably.
We hasten to point out that a poor person wouldn't be excluded from the government help he now gets, by being added to the tax roles.
On the contrary, he would more easily become a statistic. He would still be eligible for the free cheese the government distributes. And in addition the government is also planning to distribute cans of condensed milk.
There must be free government recipes available, which would show what a variety of tempting dishes could be made from cheese and canned milk. One possibility that comes to mind is a superb sauce to put on steak, if enhanced by a dash of chutney and diced Bermuda onion.