Income Tax Bad; Pollution Tax Good

Conservatives, Libertarians, and supporters of the fair and flat tax are right about income taxes. Income tax is one of the worst possible ways for the government to raise funds. Taxing each individual forces the government to spend billions on IRS agents to enforce the tax laws. The income tax is meant to be progressive, but rich people can afford to hire accountants to exploit the hundreds of tax loopholes. Even so, the bloated income tax code and the failure of enforcement are not the worst aspects of an income tax.

The income tax punishes people for being productive and successful. We tax people for working. This is idiotic. We want people to work; we want them to be productive. The government shouldn't tax people for doing what we want them to do. We should tax people for doing things which are bad for the country. We need to replace the income tax (both personal and corporate) with a pollution tax.

Pollution destroys the wilderness, ruins our air, befouls our water, and makes us all sicker. We want people to stop polluting, so we should tax them when they do. A recycling company earning $10 million a year shouldn't have to pay the same amount of taxes as a carpet company that makes $10 million while releasing tons of CO2, SO2, and carcinogens into our atmosphere.

Replacing an income tax with a pollution tax will produce many winners but some losers. Coal and oil companies would have to pay more. Gasoline and disposable plastic items would be more costly. But everyone who pays income taxes or wants to breathe clean air would be a winner. It is time for Americans to change our tax code to reflect our values. We should stop taxing hard work and start taxing the destruction of our health and environment.

While Al Gore promotes the idea of replacing the payroll taxes with a pollution tax, so far the idea has gained very little press. Hopefully this election will draw attention to the idea. A proposal which eliminates the income tax while reducing pollution at the same time should be a political winner. People on both the right and the left should be able to come together on this issue.

1 comment:

Rob said...

A great post. Well done.

As a student of economics, I will now confirm that your overall idea is sound.

A few questions:

1. Will you tax all sources of pollution, such as people running their lawnmowers?
2. There will still be enforcement costs, especially if individual activity is taxed.
3. If such a tax were implemented, pollution would likely decrease, and with it, revenue. Will this be an unstable source of revenue?

You point out that this idea has gotten very little press. That will change, of course, now that the Walker Report has spoken.

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