Kyrene Corridor group launches campaign to dump U.S. Tax Code

By Doug Snover

Federal income tax is hiding in the price of the groceries you bought this weekend and the new car you got last year, according to a group of Kyrene Corridor residents staging a Tempe Tea Party to symbolically dump the US Tax Code into Town Lake.

The better, fairer, more visible way to tax Americans is to dump the Internal Revenue Service and replace federal income tax with a national sales tax, said Charlene Westgate, a graphic designer who is Arizona’s director of the Texas-based national group called Americans for Fair Taxation.

To get their point across, Westgate and other Arizonans for the Fair Tax propose to dump the bulky federal Tax Code into Tempe Town Lake as part of a tax rally from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 4.

The tax code has about 30,000 pages of laws, not including thousands of pages of interpretations by courts.  “To us, this represents a mess that needs to be eliminated,” Westgate said.

Congressmen Jeff Flake, R-Dist. 6, and Trent Franks, R- Dist. 2, and Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer are expected to attend in support of H.R. 25, a piece of proposed federal legislation better known as the Fair Tax Act of 2005.

Westgate and Gary Burger, a Valley attorney and longtime Kyrene Corridor resident, stress this is not a protest against federal taxation. Rather, it is a rally to support what they argue is a better and fairer method of collecting federal taxes.

“Everybody agrees the current federal tax system is a complete mess and unworthy of the American people,” Burger said.

Americans want a “simple, fair, transparent” tax system so they know what they are paying, Burger said.

Federal income taxes on manufacturers and retailers force companies to raise the prices of their goods, Burger and Westgate said.  Manufacturers and distributors treat federal income taxes as costs to simply “put into the prices” of merchandise, Burger said.

That cost ultimately is paid at the cash register by Americans who can’t see how much federal taxation raises the price of even a loaf of bread.

“Businesses don’t pay taxes.  People pay taxes,” Burger said. 

Economists hired by supporters of the Fair Tax Act have estimated that 22 percent of the price of retail goods is hidden income tax being passed on to consumers, he said.

“There has to be a more fair, simpler way to collect the taxes,” Westgate said.

The Fair Tax proposal is to replace all federal income taxes with a flat 23-percent national retail sales tax on all goods and services to be paid at the point of sale.

By dumping the federal income tax on individuals and businesses, workers would take home more of their salary with each paycheck, Westgate and Burger believe. 

Meanwhile, prices of goods will eventually come down when producers stop “embedding” their own income taxes in the cost of goods, Burger predicted.

“To us, replacing the tax mess we have now would be a great benefit to the US economy,” he said. “I think 96 percent of the Code’s income sources are replaced by the Fair Tax, those being the payroll taxes, individual income taxes, business or corporate income taxes, capital gains taxes, and death taxes.”

The Fair Tax proposal also includes a plan to have the federal government “prebate” money to every American family each month based on the size of the family and the cost of living, or “poverty line.”  The idea, according to Westgate and Burger, is to help low-income families purchase necessities by providing the federal “prebates” to cover the tax due upon purchase.

More information about the Fair Tax plan is available on the national website, www.FairTax.org, or the Arizonans for the Fair Tax website, www.azfairtax.org .

Also helping plan the Tempe Tea Party is the National Taxpayer’s Union.

“It’s going to be symbolic of what the patriots did in Boston harbor,” Burger said.

Westgate said the Arizonans for the Fair Tax is a grassroots group with only a few paid staffers.  She and Burger also stressed that the group – and the effort to dump the federal income tax – is strictly non-partisan.

“Even the most liberal Democrats, who like to use the income tax system to control behavior, agree that it’s become overly complex, expensive to comply with and a burden on the United States economy,” Burger said. 

“Both sides of the political aisle agree that something needs to be done.”

The Fair Tax plan has been circulated for more than a decade.  Support is growing each year, and with H.B. 25, “we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Nationally, the Fair Tax Act is being championed by Reps John Linder, R-Ga., and Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn.

In promotional materials for the group, Linder said the proposal would “untax the poor” by providing the prebates to cover anticipated taxes on necessities.