Opinions and Speeches

May 2, 2006

No More Tweaking: Americans Deserve Real Tax Reform
By Johnny Isakson

Last month millions of Americans sat down to complete their tax returns and were frustrated yet again by an outdated, 100-year-old tax code that has become a Rubik's Cube of technicalities, complexities and carve outs. Thanks to special interest groups and Congress, our tax code has grown into a jumble of more than 1.6 million words. The average American spends about 13 hours filling out the simplest 1040 form, and three out of five Americans pay an accountant to help them.  This is unacceptable.

Our taxpayers deserve much better, but a simple "tweaking" of the current tax code will not suffice any longer.  It has definitely been "tweaked" enough.  The cosmetic facelifts Congress labels as "reform" will not get the job done. Our tax code needs a complete overhaul and all options should be on the table.  I firmly believe the only way to fairly consider all ideas is to scrap the mess we have and start from scratch.  

I have introduced legislation to give American taxpayers a simpler, fairer and flatter system of taxation by 2008. My legislation would repeal our current tax code on December 31, 2008, and require Congress to either adopt a new tax system before then or vote to re-authorize the current system - a vote I doubt many would want to cast.  In exploring options for a new system of taxation, my legislation would require that a flat income tax and a national sales tax be considered as possible replacements.  

History has taught us that if we don't impose a deadline on Congress to terminate the tax code by a date certain, overhauling our inefficient system is nearly impossible. Faced with the termination of our tax code and the loss of revenue, this Congress would be forced to take steps to undertake the massive overhaul our system needs. It is also critical that any fundamental tax reform be as seamless as possible by providing a transition plan to minimize the costs for American citizens, businesses and government. 

Having managed a family owned-and-operated real estate business for more than three decades, I know firsthand the burden our current tax code imposes on small business and families alike. The time has come for us to give some relief to the American taxpayer through a complete overhaul of our burdensome, confusing and overly complex tax code. My legislation offers a path to true tax reform - the type of reform that will result in a simpler and fairer system.

Isakson is a Republican who represents Georgia in the U.S. Senate.