Thursday, November 14, 2013

Do you want to eliminate ALL the tax loopholes? Well, do you?

Whether you're an Occupier, a Tea Partier, or whoever, you're probably mad at the unfair nature of the tax code, and how people take advantage of loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

And perhaps you're wondering why those terrible tax loopholes aren't eliminated. After all, the 99% outnumbers the 1%, and people outside the Beltway outnumber people within the Beltway.

In fact, why don't we go ahead and eliminate the three largest tax loopholes? Over two years ago, David Leonhardt even helpfully identified the big three.

So, who's going to go to Congress and demand that these be eliminated?

After all, if they're the biggest three loopholes, then they should be eliminated, right?

I detect a pause in your call to action. Oh, very well, I'll let you know the big three that Leonhardt identified.

No. 1 is the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. [The 2010] health overhaul will start to shrink this loophole in coming years, but the pace will be slow.

Tax health insurance! Get rid of the loophole! Um...who's with me?

OK, let's look at the other two.

Nos. 2 and 3 are the mortgage-interest deduction and the tax break for 401(k) contributions.

Uh, yeah, let's...eliminate...

Leonhardt astutely observed:

If Democrats and Republicans can come together to reduce these tax breaks, which will simplify the tax code and bring down the deficit, it will be very good news. It will also be surprising.

Even so-called "flat tax" proposals aren't that flat. If you read the Heritage Foundation's 2012 flat tax proposal, you'll find the ever-popular exceptions:

The only remaining deductions are for higher education, gifts and charitable contributions, and an optional home mortgage interest deduction.

And even this proposal is considered "radical."
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