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Tax day brings out protesters
As local residents went to file their tax returns with the federal government, the Libertarian Party of Monroe County conducted its fifth annual Tax Day Protest at the main post office on Fourth Street in downtown Bloomington. Also on hand were demonstrators from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The Libertarians were protesting the tax code while the WILPF was handing out information on how income taxes fund military operations, as well as how much of a percentage of discretionary spending the military budget makes up.
Greg Knott, who was picketing with the Libertarians, said he was out there to draw attention to the unfairness of the current tax system. He carried a sign that read, "Repeal the income tax". He said his preference is to go to a national sales tax. Knott pointed out HR 25, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives that would "promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States." The bill has 24 cosponsors, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Knott said that a sales tax is a voluntary tax on consumption, while the income tax is a forced tax on production.
Patty Pizzo of WILPF said she was there to stress decisions made with tax money and the inordinate amount of tax dollars that go to military spending. WILPF activists were handing out a flyer that claimed 51% of discretionary spending goes to military spending. While this claim is legitimate, it is somewhat misleading. According to a PDF posted by the Government Printing Office, total government spending for FY 2004 is estimated to be over $2.2 trillion. Of this, military spending is $390.4 billion, 17.5% of the total budget.
Monroe County Council member Marty Hawk said because her nephew is in Iraq right now, "I'm far happier to pay my taxes this year than I've been in a long time". Hawk said that she is for increased military spending to get the American soldiers stationed there home safe.
Erin Hollinden, the secretary of the Monroe County Libertarian Party and coordinator for the IU College Libertarians, said the Libertarian Party supports the elimination of the income tax and any steps in that direction are welcome progress. She said she is concerned with the funding legislation for the war in Iraq that was in a House-Senate conference committee last week that included $11 million for Congressional salaries and expenses.
Bloomington resident Larry Robinson held a sign that said, "End taxic waste". Robinson said he also favors the elimination of the income tax and the implementation of a 10% national sales tax in its place. He said essentials like food and clothing should be exempt from such a sales tax so it would not be regressive against the poor. Robinson also said that taxes should only fund essential services such as police, fire, emergency services, and national defense. He said government can fund schools, but should not own or run them.
The federal budget is estimated to be $2.2 trillion in 2004. The 2004 budget is $89 billion more than 2003 and $218 billion more than last year. That is over $8,200 for every one of the 270 million people who live in the United States. Does the federal budget need to be this big? I think not.
I don't favor elimination of the income tax, but I do favor establishing a flat tax. That would allow for the elimination of most of the IRS, and would prevent Congress from manipulating the tax code for political purposes. (You can visit the Flat Tax Home Page to see how much you would pay under a flat tax.) The rich would still pay more under a flat tax, and a simple system for exemption of income would make sure the poor are not directly burdened with income taxes. But the key in any tax reform is that it not be revenue neutral. $2,229,425,000,000 is simply too much money for the federal government to be spending annually.