Flat tax? [was: Two things]
re: "I say 20% on everything and damn the torpedoes"
Some unsolicited advice from the sunset side of the pond: every so often someone reintroduces the idea of replacing the epic tomes of U.S. tax law with a "flat tax", usually ten percent of income. This certainly sounds good, if only to save folks having to spend so damn much time on tax forms (plus a seemingly unlimited number of schedules, some of which may be applicable but it's not always clear).
However, this idea hits low-income people hardest -- ten percent of poverty-level income could mean the difference between having shelter and homelessness, food or utilities, medical care or ... you get the idea, PLUS there are a handful of credits available to poor, poor with kids, elderly poor, et cetera, and if one starts carving out exceptions ("everyone pays ten percent except those in only these conditions") we all know what happens to the "only these conditions" list and then we're back where we started with forms to prove qualifications and so on. At the other end of the income scale, is ten percent of gargantubucks fair? Perhaps that would ensure more tax actually gets paid than under our current system of credits, exceptions, and whatever else the accountants are paid to gin up, but where exactly the line gets drawn would keep our Congress tied up ... dealing with ... lobbyists for a while. Maybe things are different over there?
Also, a flat tax eliminates the ability for various administrations to encourage/ discourage various behaviours by issuing tax credits (or rescinding them). I am not saying this is good or bad, only pointing it out.