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Americans left and right say the federal tax system is broken. They differ on how to fix it. Presidential candidates are throwing their plans into the mix, from a nationwide flat tax or “fair” tax, to closing loopholes and raising taxes, to the 9-9-9 tax proposal that combines elements of each. What’s a voter to think?

For starters, most of us wish we understood our tax laws. Many of us believe the tax structure is ripe for an overhaul. At the heart of the issue is private wealth vs. common wealth—-how much of our money should we be allowed to keep for personal use and how much should we, as citizens, be required to provide in support of our national defense, our education institutions, our national transportation systems and more.

The tax reform debate isn’t new. Eighteenth-century American colonists wrestled with debt and taxes as far back as the (original) Tea Party. The U.S. Constitution solved some of the problems, but it didn’t end the debt debate by any means. Now 224 years later, the issue of reforming the tax code has us chanting anti-government slogans, displaying political placards, and rallying around presidential candidates who support our taxing ideas.

Is it time to revise national tax laws, or to start over? What would be the risks and the benefits, and how would they affect the balance of private wealth and common wealth?

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Despite, or perhaps because of, the amazing amount of information we are privy to, taxation issues remain a quagmire of politics pitted against the practical needs of government to continue operating. I suspect the average American citizen of voting age is consumed with operating his or her household and dealing with the current economy. Thus, making an informed vote on such issues is problematic at best.


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