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What Tax System Do Taxpayers Want?

Dan Barrett
August 8, 2013

For this year’s Milton Friedman Legacy Day activity, NTU Foundation asked taxpayers across the country what federal tax system they want. At our in-person event in downtown Washington, DC and online at our special voting page, we had over 650 total votes on if the current system should be kept or replaced with a FairTax, Flat Tax, National Transaction Tax, or a Value-Added Tax.

If you are unfamiliar with these tax systems, we had some fancy posters made to show the basic points and contentions associated with each (you can click on each to see the full resolution):

Here are the results broken down by those who attended our physical event and those voting via our survey online:

What Tax System Do Taxpayers Want?
Results from NTU Foundation's Special Milton Friedman Legacy Day Poll
Tax Reform
Event Votes
Online Votes
Percentage of Total
Note: Votes do not reflect total participation. Some participants did not vote.

Put another way, here's an infographic put together by our fantastic Creative Content Manager, Tim Howland:

What do these results mean? Probably a few things:

  • A consumption-based system is gaining steam across the country.
  • Folks in DC are more rooted in an income-based system.
  • Taxpayers are tired of the current system but don’t want alternatives that might increase compliance costs or complexity.

We need more information and more taxpayers in the network of voting and voicing their preferences. Stay tuned, we here at NTU Foundation are working on another survey to get a more clear idea on what people want out of their tax system.


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Submitted by lou at: August 16, 2013
Fair tax is least fair, hurts the young folks just getting started and needing to buy everything to start families, homes, etc. Seniors have what they need so don't pay at all. Flat tax is FAIREST to all.

Submitted by JimW at: August 12, 2013
Against the income tax: Recent events in the news regarding the exercise of political targeting against anti-tax groups by the IRS have stimulated a debate over alternatives to the income tax as a means of financing the Federal government. In the immediate future, whatever the outcome of that debate, and whether or not drastic downsizing on the Federal level is in the cards, some arrangements could be easily implemented without overhaul of existing institutions. With respect to the IRS we need not be reminded of a system inimical to our basic sense of propriety; a system that oversteps centuries of hard won barriers between overt power and the defenseless citizen in the evolution of Anglo-American jurisprudence. One need only point to the requirements in the tax return. Filers are compelled to produce testimonial information in direct defiance of Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. But what else is the nature of the mandatory signature on a tax return (that can be used for prosecution based on felony perjury for even careless omissions) than an imposition of the highest affront to natural liberty? And since user fees can be more easily handled in a digital age, much of the funding on the federal level could be switched away from the income tax altogether. For instance, the expenses of keeping a military base to benefit the host country could be charged to that country or simply closed. Royalties on resource extraction on federal land could be brought in line with the private sector. Why should not the public interest be sought with a fee or rental for use of the broadcast airwaves, or by treaty for fishing rights, and to step up compensation for toxic air and water pollution? We should keep in mind that other taxes such as on land value provides little latitude for tax avoidance and so require no intrusive self-reporting. Income taxes have become not merely a pecuniary burden, but also oppressive of political expression. Taking a first step challenging the intractable institution of federal taxing authority may open the door to other innovative means of eliminating tax burdens on productive effort. This could include indexing income (but not the tax bill) with the CPI so that an individual’s taxes would fall over time at the same rate of inflation: With 3% inflation $60,000 income would become $120,000 in 24 years, but if it were indexed to remain at $60,000 in real income, then a 20% tax amounting to $12,000 (unchanged in money terms) would only be $6,000 in real purchasing power after 24 years. With 10% inflation the time frame for cutting taxes by half would be only 7 years. Suggestions have been made to phase out the income tax through progressively increasing the amount for the standard deduction, or exemptions. But this fix might be negated through bracket creep should high inflation rates return. Moreover, it would be an incentive for authorities to increase inflationary policies rather than diminish them, and thereby once again might provide the inflationary impetus for the next speculative boom. Under the present proposal those depending on government largess and sensitive to the flow of revenue to the Treasury would thereafter be aware of some disadvantages to inflationary policies. This method of downsizing might avoid drastic cuts for civil servants who would have been caught up in layoffs through no fault of their own under a more hurried transition away from the income tax. Alternatively, and in spit of this consideration, for those who hold that reductions in government revenue can come none too soon, there could be a move to add an acceleration of the indexed reduction by any factor Congress could be persuaded to include.

Submitted by BigD at: August 12, 2013
Any tax that is based on income reporting is a violation of our 4th ammendment. W have been FRAUDED making us think we must fill out a "Federal Income Tax" form! We have a voulentary compliance system, that they try to make us beleve it is manditory. It is CONTRACT LAW, when you sign it you signed a contract to pay, and that's valid and enforcable. Nobody I have heard can explain "How a voulentary compliance is mandatory"?

Submitted by BigD at: August 12, 2013
Emport, Sxport & Excise ONLY! that what the original constitution calls for. Close the IRS and the Fed.

Submitted by oilseekr at: August 10, 2013
Taxing income is wrong-headed in our capitalistic society. It is a tax on productivity and discourages such. We must have "elimination" NOT "simplification" of the tax code. It has already been "simplified into the 73,000 page nightmare it is now.

Submitted by Fairtax Bill at: August 10, 2013
The Fair Tax would eliminate forever the use of political power to help your friends and hurt your enemies, such as the nonsense concerning the targeting of conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status. By the way, it is still going on, three months after having been exposed. What arrogance by the current administration!

Submitted by Anonymous at: August 9, 2013
Wish I had voted; it would've been another endorsement of FAIR TAX. We need to abolish the IRS!

Submitted by Bolsterde at: August 9, 2013
The FairTax is the best way to make the taxes we pay fair, and the level of taxes paid by "the Rich" will be greater because they purchase more consumer products and services, while the people under the poverty level are paid a monthly amount to pay the FairTax. Beneficial to all citizens and visitors help pay this consumer tax when they are in our country. Plus, no amount of lobby money can get these special interests any favors!

Submitted by dick at: August 9, 2013
the liberal obama i.r.s. needs to be abolished NOW

Submitted by FTWarrior at: August 9, 2013
The FairTax is by far the best option. Taxing income is a Marxist concept that has no place in this country. 100 years of politicians plundering our paychecks is 100 too many.

Submitted by Tim at: August 9, 2013
Flat tax and demolish IRS

Submitted by Tedde at: August 9, 2013
Let's get rid of the social engineering that runs rampant today with unscrupulous political ambition and take back our freedoms. Disband IRS and its 70,000 rules with The Fair Tax.

Submitted by FairTax Frank at: August 9, 2013
The FairTax is the only system that SIMPLIFIES, the only system that rids us of the IRS, taxes the broadest base, and has the same rules for everyone. FairTax EVERYBODY pays, so everybody pays LESS.

Submitted by D Man at: August 9, 2013
The "Fair Tax" is exactly as it is named. It is totally fair and needs to be implemented to save our economy. The "Fair Tax" is the best tax code for the FREE country that America is supposed to be.