Kevin Price
The truth about taxes
By Kevin Price
August 5, 2010

Conservatives have gotten rather animated about this idea that approximately 50 percent of the population does not pay taxes. They point at this as an example of a government that lulls the majority to sleep by keeping their tax burden low (or even "no"), while pounding the wealthy minority in order to keep themselves in power. Conservatives are half right, the intention of the "soak the rich" philosophy is to make the rest of America believe it is not paying taxes, and is thus distracted from the government's irresponsible fiscal activities.

Those who are offended by the fact that the federal government does not directly tax such a huge population, should be angry, but the story should not end there. It is not that these people are not paying taxes, it is that they are paying taxes through a huge shell game that has them being economically exploited without even realizing it. They are being taxed through the prices that businesses charge them. It is a game in which cowardly politicians use businesses that don't vote to tax the individuals who do, through the selling goods. Worried about the possibility of a Value Added Tax? Don't be, we already have it in the form of corporate income taxes. Meanwhile, politicians disparage "big business" for its exploits and profits. The one who really takes advantage of the "little guy" is the government who uses businesses as a tax collecting vehicle.

The common retort to this argument is that "this is ridiculous, businesses pay taxes just like everyone else." Reality check...taxes are little more than a fixed cost of doing business. When the taxes go up, businesses transfer the cost to consumers in the form of higher prices or in the reduction of the quality of the products they make. If the taxes go up to levels that a business finds prohibitive, they move their companies to other countries in order to be more competitive. Businesses do not pay taxes, people do.

The next argument is, if the government cuts or eliminates taxes on corporations, businesses would simply become richer. Maybe, but not from the tax cuts. What would actually happen if taxes on businesses were eliminated? In every industry across America there would be players that would lower prices in proportion to the cut in order to get a larger share of customers. This would rather quickly drive prices down across industries, making consumers richer and creating huge numbers of jobs. Walmart, for example, has the lowest cost per product of any retail company in the world. There is no doubt in my mind that it would drop prices immediately and others would quickly follow. The vast majority of corporations makes a net profit of 7 percent on average. This is how the market works — either competition or the threat of competition — forces companies to keep profits modest so their business can steadily grow. As the saying goes, "pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered." This simple adage explains why the end of corporate taxes would lead to a proportional savings to consumers.

So what about the huge deficits that desperately need revenue? It would come from everyone directly, preferably through a sales tax, rather than one on wealth creation. A sales tax would increase fiscal responsibility because it would have to remain low in order to prevent a black market. It would get revenue from everyone — ranging from the undocumented to the drug dealer, as well as honest working Americans — who all have to buy things in order to live. Most importantly, those who vote would see the cost of government in every purchase they make and that would lead to a government that is much more accountable and a tax system that is far more honest.

Don't be fooled, every American pays taxes in our current system through higher prices, lost jobs, and destroyed opportunities. We need an honest system that restores political integrity and makes us more prosperous.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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