Testimony for HJR 8 – The Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act (Mo. Fairtax)
James Coyne – Owner Coyne Agency Inc. Columbia, Mo.
George Washington once said “Government is a necessary evil” .
By extension, so are the taxes that fund it.
Necessary, because we must pay for the legitimate functions of Government.
Evil, because taxes take from a man the fruits of his labor and oppress him with regulation.
The question before us then is what method of collecting taxes is the most fair, the most simple and the least intrusive to our liberty? In a word, the least evil.
Every year Missourians go about trying to figure out what they owe and why they owe it under our income tax. Those with good tax accounts figure out how to pay less or none at all , the less crafty pay much more. In this bizarre game, businesses and individuals spend days of effort and thousands of dollars trying to figure out how to win.
But the rules of the game are fuzzy at best. Ask 3 tax attorneys if a particular method of organizing a business or a given deduction is legal and you might well get 3 different answers. An individual can end up on the wrong end of the law and not even know it. He can be subject to harsh punishment without even knowing he broke the law.
Worse yet, winners and losers are actually picked before the game ever starts by the state. Tax policy is used to reward some and punish others. It is used to manipulate citizens and that is unamerican and unworthy of the great state of Missouri.
We are not children nor compliant subjects – we are free men and women who have the right to equal treatment under the law – regardless of what businesses we are in or our economic standing.
The only reason I can think of to support the current tax system in Missouri is if you are one of the winners in this rigged game. If you have figured out a way to pay less than your neighbor or you are in a business favored by the state, you send a lobbyist to make sure you hold on to that winning hand. You will be hearing from a number of them today. They forget the greater good and simply like the unfair game because it favors them.
The excessive regulation of our tax code takes its toll on people in time, money and loss of liberty. I run a small insurance agency in Columbia consisting of myself, my daughter and my wife. Every year I spend over a thousand dollars paying a c.p.a. To do my payroll, file and send in my withholding tax and file tax returns.
In addition to the wasted money, I take time every month to inform her of what was paid and to whom. At the end of the year, it takes days of work with mounds of papers to prove every expense, penny of income and deduction.
And frankly there is always that fear in the back of my mind that I will get a knock on the door from a man from the government and he will find I did something wrong and I will be in a world of trouble.
If you are honest with yourself, doesn’t every person in this room have the same fear? With tax laws that are incomprehensible, that can be applied selectively, who knows if all your papers are ever truly are in order? And does not the income tax give the state the entree, the perfect excuse, to delve into every nook and cranny of you private life? What part of your private life is not touched in some way by money?
Multiply that loss of time, money and privacy over the millions of citizens in Missouri and we start to see a system that bleeds our state. This system makes the people fear the government and that is anti democratic.
The bill before you offers a stark alternative to all of this. I ask for your serious consideration of it. Everyone pays tax at the point of purchasing new goods and services and is done with the matter. No papers to keep, no taxes to file, no hassle, no fear. It is fair – everyone pays it and it is applied equally. It is simple and easily understood by the common man and it does not waste peoples time and money or intrude on their privacy.
The amount of income coming into the state will be the same as it is now. I believe the positive effects will be far reaching throughout our great state.
This system of taxation has been extensively researched in the academic world and has broad support by economists and citizens alike. It is currently being used by a number of states with great success. I will let others explain the well proven economic and job creating advantages .
But let me ask you one parting question. How did we get along before the income tax? The answer is - just fine.