Every few years, the GOP becomes enamored of the concept of a "flat tax" that would leave all Americans paying the same percentage of their income in taxes and greatly simplify the tax-preparation process.
And now GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry has become the latest candidate to propose one.
Perry has proposed a flat tax of 20% of income on all Americans. And he has promised that this will make filing your tax returns as easy as mailing a postcard.
The problem, from the perspective of those who love the idea of simplicity, is that Perry wants his flat tax to be optional. Under his plan, citizens will have the option of paying taxes under their current tax rates...or paying them under Perry's flat tax. Perry also wants to keep the mortgage-interest and charity deductions for those making under $500,000 a year.
What this means is that, for the majority of Americans, filing taxes will become even more complicated, not less. Because, to choose which tax to pay, Americans will have to calculate taxes using two different methods to determine which will produce the lesser tax burden.
And then there's the other problem (or attribute, depending on your perspective) that accompanies most flat-tax plans: Perry's plan will effectively cut taxes for the super-rich, thus shifting a greater percentage of the total tax burden to the middle class.
Some political commentators have already slammed Perry's plan, calling it yet another "campaign blunder." It will be interesting to see whether it reverses Perry's decline in the polls.
- Rick Perry