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LAST WEEK’S QUESTION:

Should the federal government eliminate income taxes in favor of a national sales tax? Why or why not?

YES — 71 percent

NO — 29 percent

LAST WEEK’S QUESTION:

Should the federal government eliminate income taxes in favor of a national sales tax? Why or why not?

YES — 71 percent

NO — 29 percent

HOW YOU SAID IT:

YES: “Eliminating the current tax system and replacing it with a consumption-based tax makes sense, is simple and fair. Unfortunately, the federal government never does anything that makes sense, is simple and fair. Therefore, the likelihood of it happening is nil.”

—Matthew W. Anater,

Lancaster County

YES: “1) A consumption / sales tax would give (individuals) some control of their tax burden as they could choose to not spend. 2) The more you spend, the more you pay. If you have the resources to spend a lot, you pay taxes proportionately. 3) Food should be exempt (similar to how it is in the Pennsylvania sales-tax code). 4) Income tax is a penalty on production, where we should reward production.

There would need to be a phase-in of the switch, i.e. the U.S. economy could not switch to a consumption tax from an income tax at one time because of the amount of real estate purchased on the basis of the deduction. If we eliminate the deduction, some folks would need to sell to downsize. Also, adding the cost of a sales tax on home sales would also reduce how much home someone would buy. In addition, nonprofit and charities would be impacted for losing the deduction.”

—Frank White,

Dauphin County

YES: “A national sales tax to replace the current income-tax system is definitely a good idea. However, it should also be extended to state, county and municipal taxes (including school districts), with all other nuisance taxes such as real estate, service fees, per capita, occupation, etc. A tax based on purchases is the only true way to provide government income based on the ability — and willingness — to pay. The income tax would not have to be very much, if government were drastically reduced. What ever happened to government of the people?”

—Ronald L. Hoover,

York County

YES: “It would be fair, simple, etc. Tax as one spends; rich will spend more than poor.”

—Paul Lantz,

Baltimore County, Md.

YES: “But only if they cannot revive the income tax. In Europe, where I do much of my work, there is the 21 percent sales tax (VAT), as well as an average 45 percent income tax.”

—Ronald L. Boltz,

York County

YES: “A good tax structure should be 1) easy to collect, 2) have diverse sources of revenue (to make taxes hard to avoid) and 3) spread the burden similarly on everyone with similar circumstances.

The federal government should limit income taxes to the top 25 percent of earners, to make collection more efficient (lower percentage cost of collection compared with taxes collected).

A new federal sales tax should also not apply to food, education, shelter, medical services or clothing. This tax and the one above would be to maintain a progressive tax structure, which in turn reduces the burden on those who least enjoy the fruits of our society and for young people who are just starting out. Without a progressive tax structure, the middle class will continue to decline.

Additionally, there should be a corporate turnover tax at the point of production or importation. Poorly run corporations escape taxation and makes the economy less efficient, but more importantly, taxing access to the U.S. market allows us to tax imports and still maintain free trade.

There is no need for a progressive structure on corporations.

Finally, the corporate income tax should remain (to charge corporations for the significant advantages to their stockholders) and should balance with the turnover tax so importers to the U.S. cannot arbitrage the two taxes. The importer pays on import or pays when a profit is made in the U.S., and it shouldn’t matter which tax they pay; it should be the same amount.”

—Robert P. Melcher,

Lancaster County

NO: “The need to have various forms of tax is very critical to the health of our economy. Placing all the burden in one area like sales tax will cause more inequity than our present system, as money is made and spent in many ways. None of our current mainstream taxes should be abolished, only adjusted and balanced and made more efficient and lower.”

—Cleo Weaver,

Lancaster County

NO: “A low net-income person could possibly spend everything they earn. By paying tax on all money earned — which is in effect all money spent — they will pay a higher percentage of their income in sales tax than they currently do in income tax.”

—Rose M. Anderson,

York County

NO: “Unless you want to start including exceptions for things like the basic necessity and — suddenly — you’ve got a system nearly as complicated as the current IRS. While the simplicity of a sales tax is very appealing, as well as the fact that a sales tax automatically rewards savings, I think it’s regressive nature outweighs those benefits.”

—Patrick Early,

Cumberland County

NO: “I think it would be unfair to the poor. Even though wealthy people buy more, it would not offset the earning difference.”

—Carl Knaub,

Cumberland County

NO: “No one likes paying their taxes. The IRS has been vilified in the minds of many, and it seems to be an unfair system that punishes success. However, it is infinitely better than the idea of a federal sales, or fair tax. The fair tax will elicit a nationwide black-market economy, the likes of which this country has not seen since the enactment of the 18th Amendment (prohibition).

Recently, New York City imposed a $1.50 per pack tax on cigarettes, which equates to approximately a 23 percent tax hike, much like what would be called for in the fair tax. What was the result? Purchases of cigarettes in New York City plummeted by about 50 percent. A naive observer might think 50 percent of New York City residents got the idea that smoking was not a good idea and quit. However, that is simply not the case; most of these folks have turned to a thriving black-market economy or have turned to other methods to beat the system. The same would clearly occur on a national level if all things suddenly cost 23 percent more. Though people’s incomes would increase via the non-withholding of taxes, the first time someone went to buy a high-ticket item (a computer that normally costs $599 would cost $780.98 under the new federal and state taxes), they would immediately find non-traditional avenues for that purchase, thereby bankrupting the federal government in short order. A possible preventative measure would be to triple the size of the FBI to hunt down the new wave of entrepreneurs; but who wants big brother around every corner? I guess Mike Huckabee does.”

—Jay L. Andrzejczyk,

York County

NO: “Absolutely not. What is everyone thinking anyway, that some how they will magically have more discretionary income if we go to a national sales tax in place of the current income tax? There isn’t anyone out there that would disagree with the statement that the current income-tax system that taxes everyone through payroll taxes is unfair and hurts the lower-income people the most, but to think we would be doing them any favors by imposing a national sales tax is ludicrous.

First off, the national sales tax would have to be somewhere around 25 percent on everything; there could be no exception. How do you think someone living below the poverty line is going to fare at the supermarket when they have to pay an additional 25 percent for their groceries? And don’t forget that most states also have a sales taxes of somewhere around 6 percent, so the bite would be approximately 31 percent. This would be on every purchase. There would be no point where, after you have sent the government so much of your money, you would become exempt.

We need to restructure the current tax system, and we need to get rid of all the current loopholes that allow corporations and individuals to pay little or no tax. We need to pay off our current national debt, which, not accounting for the money borrowed from Social Security, is now more than $9 trillion. You could add to that another $4 trillion to $5 trillion that we have borrowed from Social Security Trust Fund over the years, without any accountability.

The only way to reduce taxes and establish a fair system it to eliminate the national debt completely, refund Social Security and get our spending under control and than means the complete elimination of all earmarks. Good luck getting that through Congress.”

— Bill Hansman,

York County

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:

Has the weaker dollar hurt your business in Central Pennsylvania? Why or why not?

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