What Others Are Saying

Athens Banner Herald
January 31, 2006

Isakson's bill on tax system is worth a look

There's clearly a political element to the timing, but that doesn't necessarily mean U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson's proposal to force Congress to either approve the current federal tax code or develop a new system of taxation shouldn't get a second look.

Isakson's office announced the initiative Monday, the day before people across the country should have their W-2 forms, showing their 2005 wages and the taxes on those wages, in hand. There's also probably some political motivation within Isakon's proposed Tax Code Termination Act, which would require Congress to approve a new tax code by July 4, 2008 - Independence Day, falling in the middle of a presidential election year. In the absence of having a new tax code in place, Isakson's bill would require a congressional vote reauthorizing the current tax code.

Politics aside, the need for revamping the existing code is obvious. As noted in the news release announcing Isakson's proposal, large numbers of Americans must hire a professional tax preparer to help them with their tax payment forms.

Isakson's bill would create a 15-member commission to review how the current code affects the economy and workers. The commission, with appointees named by the president and the leaders of both parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives, would also be charged with determining how much it costs taxpayers, including small businesses, to comply with current regulations, and how well the federal Internal Revenue Service administers the code. The commission would include two members from businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Regarding any new tax system, Isakson's bill would require the commission to determine the system's impact on this nation's economy, and to determine the cost of transitioning to a new system.

The bill calls for the commission to specifically consider two options for replacing the current income tax - a national sales tax and a flat tax, in which income is taxed at the same rate, regardless of income level.

If nothing else, Isakson's bill has the potential for opening up a wide-ranging discussion of the federal income tax. The bill should get serious consideration in Congress, because such a discussion is long overdue.