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Scrapping the tax code

Column by Bob Goodlatte

goodlattefirst_r5_c7_thumbnail.jpgWith spring under way, warmer weather is returning, the days are growing longer, and everything is in bloom. Unfortunately, the arrival of spring also kicks off a second and largely unwelcomed season. This season is marked by piles of forms, confusing instructions, and the prospect of turning your hard-earned money over to the government – tax season.

The current federal tax code is broken beyond repair, and it is obvious that tax reform is absolutely necessary. In their 2006 annual report to Congress, the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service that assists taxpayers who are experiencing problems with the IRS, listed “the complexity of the Internal Revenue Code” as the most serious problem facing taxpayers today.

This comes as no surprise to American taxpayers and businesses who devote a total of 6.6 billion hours each year to comply with the tax code. We are in dire need of tax simplification. For this reason, I have introduced the Tax Code Termination Act. This bipartisan legislation, which has the support of over 85 members of Congress, is quite simple. It will repeal the entire tax code, except the portions that deal with Social Security and Medicare, by Dec. 31, 2010, and calls on Congress to approve a new federal tax system by July of the same year. The American people are fed up with the current system – and rightly so. The only way to solve this problem is to fully confront it and abolish the current tax code.

While many questions remain about the best way to reform our tax system, the Tax Code Termination Act takes the important first step by forcing Congress to address this critical issue. There are a number of possibilities to replace the current tax code including the fair tax, a flat income tax and a number of other proposals. Whichever tax system is adopted, the key ingredients should be: a low rate for all Americans; tax relief for working people; protection of the rights of taxpayers and reduction in tax collection abuses; promotion of savings and investment; and encouragement of economic growth and job creation. Taxes may be unavoidable, but they don’t have to be unfair and overcomplicated.

Today’s tax code is unfair, discourages savings and investment, and is impossibly complex. We can all agree that the current tax system is broken, and keeping it is not in America’s best interest. Whatever form the new federal tax system takes, it should be a simpler, fairer, and less burdensome tax code which will ultimately benefit our national economy and our hard-working citizens.


Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District in the United States Congress. Contact him at

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