Acton Institute Powerblog

The Tax Code: Business as Usual

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In this week’s Acton Commentary, I argue for simplifying the tax code. It should also be evident that any sort of tax reform should coincide with reforming the way Washington currently operates when it comes to spending.

April 15th is of course tax day, and national protests will also be occurring across this nation under the historically significant title of “tea parties.” One of the points I made in my piece is that it is important that these protests are not just a partisan vessel for bomb throwing and another opportunity to just recite talking points. I think people of most political and ideological persuasions can agree that government spending is out of control. It’s hard for numbers to lie. Repackaging partisan characters who have a large hand in the spending crisis won’t be very effective. Fortunately I think some of the organizers understand this.

Back to the tax code, much of my thinking on this issue can be summed up by noting the tax code is only a very visible problem or symbol of the larger crisis, which is government spending and a never ending need for more revenue. In regards to the lobbyist and special interests, there is a great quote I didn’t include in my commentary that is worth mentioning. In an article written by Bill Theobald titled “Budget 101: easy to spend, tough to tax,” University of Cincinnati professor of Law Paul L. Caron says of tax reform:

Major tax reform is possible in our system, but only if it is truly so fundamental that it creates a constituency greater (in the politicians’ eyes) than the special interests that would be hurt.

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor of the the North State Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, he was managing editor of Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.


  • J. Ankrom

    “One of the most obvious reasons to reform the current tax code is its sheer complexity.”

    The complexity of the tax code pales in comparison to its immorality. To suggest the reform of tax policy depends upon politicians recognizing a greater constituency than the special interests is evidence and an acknowledgement of government abuse, revealing its utter contempt for the people whom government serves and, at the same time, ignores the sinfulness of it all. To ignore this is to ignore the truth. Truth is what sets us free; not tax reform.

    The very idea that a wage earner must share the fruits of his labor in order to provide any man with position is absurd on its face. No government, at any level, is entitled to a piece of a wage earners earnings unless, of course, we have accepted the concept of chattel slavery, serfdom, or indentured servitude as the American way of life. While it is, “lawful (not a sin) to PAY taxes,” this does not mean it is lawful to extract taxes for the expansion of power and destroying the lives and liberty of the citizenry.

    The constant clarion call for more and more taxes in the name of public health, public safety and whatever novel idea politicians can invent to promise a better way of life is the same as that which inevitably results in the annihilation of the rights and freedoms our public servants are sworn to uphold and protect. As things are, the only things politicians want to uphold and protect are their positions and expansion of their power.

    Reform will only come when men everywhere in government realize their need to repent and recognize their proper role is to uphold good and punish evil. Their role is not to redefine the created order or reinvent themselves as, “gods knowing good and evil.” Each man is not free to do what is right in his own eyes. Especially not men who swear oaths in the name of God to do otherwise.