The Berks-Mont News (

Reflections: Replace state, local, sales and property taxes in favor of bigger federal income tax

Revenue generated will make the whole situation less taxing on people who would do less filing

By Mike Zielinski, Columnist

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

OK, we’re all going to die. We’re all going to pay taxes. You read it here first.

While we can’t do anything about the former, perhaps we can do something to make the latter a little less painful than open heart surgery without anesthesia. But not until we prod Uncle Sam to step up and do a better job.

Yes, I know about the Trump tax cuts, which sliced the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. But who really knows how they will play out?

Some claim the corporate tax cuts will serve as an incentive for capital investment and job growth. Others claim they are a giveaway to the wealthy that will grow the national debt and require future cuts to welfare programs such as Medicaid.

The only person who truly knows the eventual outcome is Nostradamus but so far he has been mum on the subject.

On top of that blistering uncertainty, we here in good old PA still are stuck with school property taxes, although there is increasing momentum in Harrisburg to eliminate them and replace them with increasing income and sales taxes.

Granted, we still are paying taxes either way but if the state legislators toggle from school property taxes to more income and sales taxes, we reserve the right not to have any income or buy anything.

Some folks, especially those who had to sell homes they could no longer afford and move into shoeboxes, are so sick of property taxes that their skin is as pale as a pearl handle.

It’s sort of spooky to live amidst a bunch of folks whiter than ghosts.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture, we’re all stuck in the net of too many types of taxes. We’re like tuna caught at sea but at least tuna don’t pay taxes.

We and our wallets have to flounder around with federal, state and local income taxes, school property taxes (for now), head taxes, sales taxes and God knows what else.

Besides paying through the nose, we’re all contemplating hara-kiri because of all the paperwork. We do more filing than a manicurist. There has to be a better way.

I took one college economics course and slept through most of the 8:30 a.m. classes. Nevertheless, I have a solution because with my Jimmie Johnson driving skills I managed to pass that course on the curve.

Why can’t we just pay a federal income tax that is graduated prudently and fairly across income levels? The richer you are, the more you pay. The poorer you are, the less you pay. And if you’re middle class, you don’t have to pay the freight for the pampered rich and the perpetually poor.

And then let the federal folks do their jobs efficiently and filter the money down to the state and local levels with an equitable system that eliminates all the confounding layers of fragmentation.

No state taxes. No local taxes. No property taxes. No sales taxes. Just one federal income tax large enough to cover all of them.

One big gulp instead of infinite smaller bites. We’ll no longer get hopelessly lost in a labyrinth of paperwork. Our tax savings may be negligible, but our aggravation savings would be boundless.

Even people who can count only on one hand would be transformed into living, breathing versions of TurboTax.

We simply have too many tax collectors. If we can’t make the folks who operate the levers in Washington, D.C. make a Big Brother government accountable to all us little brothers, let’s vote in officials who will.

Otherwise getting taxed from every conceivable angle will remain a maddening way of life.