When Congress changes the nation’s tax system, it should turn over the job of collecting taxes to the states, U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth suggested Wednesday.
“Then we can do away with the IRS,” the freshman Republican from Idaho said to the applause of members from four area chambers of commerce.
Chenoweth and Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., agreed that changes in the nation’s tax system are inevitable. Neither was willing to predict which way the debate would go.
Maybe a flat tax, in which everyone pays the same percentage of tax on income and few if any deductions are allowed.
Maybe a consumption tax, something akin to a national sales tax, with taxable items to be determined later.
Maybe some combination of the two.
“I want a system that frees up Americans to earn more money,” Nethercutt said during the luncheon forum. He supports a reduction in the capital gains tax, which takes a share of any profits from investments.
If the federal government drops the income tax in favor of either of the two main alternatives being considered, collecting taxes would be greatly simplified, Chenoweth said.
Most states are already equipped to collect a sales tax, she said, and many could handle a simplified income tax like the flat tax.
Washington state, which doesn’t have an income tax, might have more problems than Idaho, which does, she added.
“I don’t think it would take them too much to gear up,” she said after the luncheon.
With states collecting tax revenue and sending it to Washington, D.C., the federal government could easily abolish the Internal Revenue Service, including its enforcement arm, she said.
“The states are more likely to think of incentives to bring people out of the underground economy,” Chenoweth said.
Such sweeping changes in tax collection are not part of any bill, but “could logically follow” the suggested tax revisions, she said.
On other topics, Nethercutt and Chenoweth agreed the federal government must reimburse property owners if it enacts new rules that harm land values. It must also consider the costs of saving the salmon in some Northwest rivers and streams, they said.
“We have to rely on sensible science for long-term solutions,” Nethercutt said of different approaches to boost salmon populations. “Perhaps we’re approaching spending too much money on salmon.”
The two freshman Republicans also agreed the federal government should crack down on criminals with guns rather than tighten gun control laws.
Gun control laws don’t make a community, or a nation safer, Chenoweth contended.
“The last time the nation of Switzerland was invaded was during the Roman Empire, because every young man of military age must have a gun in his home,” she said. “That’s why Switzerland wasn’t invaded in World War I or World War II. That’s how it was set up originally in America.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo