Why Stop at a Flat Tax?

Ah, the Flat Tax! The panacea of Libertarians and the Extremely Wealthy everywhere! So seductive in its simplicity: A single tax rate for all tax payers, regardless of income. Believe it or not, even I support a slightly modified version of the Flat Tax*. There’s no question that it would reduce the tax-related infrastructure (and tax-evasion infrastructure). Besides, isn’t the Flat Tax more fair (ask the people who, for every other matter of finance or law, insist that “fairness” isn’t a valid consideration)?

So, yeah, the Flat Tax has some attractive features. But then, I read this article about a very wealthy individual in Finland, where they scale fines to the offender’s income. What a brilliant idea! However, I don’t think the folks in Helsinki go nearly far enough. If we’re going to have a Flat Tax, let’s base every cost on the income of the purchaser. Instead of costing, say, $20,000 dollars, the car would cost 35% of your annual income. When it comes to food, of course, you get to some pretty small percentages, but hey, that’s just an incentive to learn math, right?

I get it. I really do. Folks want the benefits of wealth without the costs scaling along with them. I can’t blame ’em for trying. But if you expect me to take that kind of one-sided proposal seriously, you’re going to have to do a better job than the Flat Tax folks have managed thus far.

* In my version, the first quarter million is exempt. After that, there’s a flat rate. Call me a dreamer…

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