Tuesday, November 01, 2005

taxes, bloody taxes

I haven't gone thru the whole thing yet, but the bipartisan expert panel today released its recommendations for tax reform.

I like at least a couple of things. First, I like the idea of limiting the mortgage tax deduction. The panel doesn't suggest getting rid of it, but limiting it to only part of the mortgage, from from $227,000 to $412,000 according to real estate prices in your part of the country. That would preserve the entire tax benefit of a mortgage for most homeowners, and reduce the vaguely absurd subsidy for upper-end housing. Real estate interests, naturally, won't like anything that could even slightly dampen the upper end of the real estate market.

I also like the idea of killing the deduction for state and local taxes in return for getting rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT, not indexed for inflation, is grabbing greater and greater numbers of not-rich taxpayers every year. Government accountants won't want to get rid of it because it is quite a money-maker, but reforming the AMT in some way is appropriate because it no longer serves its original purpose of making sure the very rich pay at least a little something.

But the panel's report may not matter. De facto Bush Administration mouthpiece Scott "I Cannot Talk About Plamegate" McClellan said "The president is going to be outlining more about how we can move forward to reform the tax code and make it simpler and fairer." That is code for "we need to figure out how to reduce the burden on our rich supporters while passing the cost on to the suckers that keep re-electing us."

I can't figure out why the GOP doesn't just advocate the flattest tax possible -- say, $4000 per year per man, woman and child in the country regardless of income. Now THERE'S a proposal the wealthy investor classes can get behind.

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