Taxes and Expiring Tax Breaks

Time is running out for Congress to extend more than 50 tax breaks worth nearly $85 billion, including popular ones for college expenses and energy-efficient appliances.

There are other costs to these tax breaks:

The [House of Representative’s Joint Committee on Taxation has identified 79 expired or expiring federal tax provisions from 2013 to 2023.


…the so-called “breaks” result in less revenue for the Treasury Department and an increase to the deficit—like the projected $84.1 billion the Senate bill would add if passed in full.

However, to get onto one of my hobby horses, we wouldn’t need these tax breaks if we had a single, low flat rate. Moreover, as the above quotes illustrate, there’s a large cost to government social engineering and to government interference in a free market’s operation.

Taxes, though, aren’t for government-directed social engineering. All the social engineering government is allowed to do is named in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence—the founding documents of our social compact. Actual social engineering is up to We the People, and no one else, no entity else.

And the kicker: with a low, flat rate, and with everyone with an income required to pay, there would be no loss of revenue to the government, breaks or not. Note, too, that this kicker ignores the question of whether such a tax reform should be revenue neutral. (Hint: it need not be, except perhaps initially for the political reason of getting the thing passed.)

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