Gwinnett Daily Post- From day one, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) has been pushing what he describes as a “big idea.”
That big idea — the FairTax — would totally overhaul the United States tax system, eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and result in what Woodall claims would be “the largest transfer of power out of Washington and back to the American family that we’ve seen in a hundred years.”
While that “big idea” may seem to attractive to some, others, Woodall explained, find the prospect of change frightening.
“It’s a big idea, and folks don’t like big ideas,” Woodall said. “It’s easier to nibble around the edges than come out and call for the complete reformation of a tax code that’s been in place for almost a 100 years — that’s a big ask.”
Unlike the current system, under which taxes are based on income, the FairTax is a consumption-based tax. There would be no exemptions or deductions, instead taxpayers would receive a “prebate” — or tax refund — based upon family size alone, not income.
“What we say with the FairTax is that we’re not going to micromanage your purchasing decisions,” Woodall said. “We’re just going to give you the one rebate based on your family size.”
Though the prebate would require the issuance of checks and the accompanying administrative effort to support that process, Woodall still believes it is the best option available.
“It is my least favorite part of the FairTax, but is it night and day better than where we are with the current system? Absolutely,” he said.
Under the FairTax, all taxes would be collected by retailers at the final point of sale. There are no taxes anywhere in the manufacturing chain, Woodall said. While a revenue collection agency would still be necessary with the FairTax, that agency, Woodall emphasized, would not be the Internal Revenue Service.
“Under a FairTax scheme, where there’s a small auditing structure that only looks at retail businesses, there’s no possibility you could ever end up with that targeting of political enemies that we’ve seen come out of the IRS,” he said. “It is essential we abolish the agency that has all of that power, all of that influence, all of that information about you and your family.”
Returning that power to the people, Woodall said, is important because it removes the temptation of “social engineering” that an income-based tax system presents for groups such as the Ways and Mean Committee and the Finance Committee.
“They can manipulate everyone’s life through the tax code — not for nefarious purposes but for things they think are good purposes,” Woodall explained.
The power to tax, he added, is the “power to destroy, the power to manipulate.”
Removing that ability, Woodall said, makes it very hard to get the Washington establishment on board.
“You can imagine, there are some folks who are disappointed to see that power leave Washington,” he said. “There are folks that think they are very smart and very caring and if only they’re allowed to make these decisions about taxes, they’ll be able to make people’s lives better by helping to control some of the family’s decisions.”
Woodall believes the FairTax will make people’s lives better and will bolster the economy. Currently, the measure has more supporters in Congress than it has ever had — 76 in the House and nine in the Senate.
“There’s not going to come a day when we’re not going to try to do more the next cycle than we did the last cycle,” Woodall said.
The problem, he added, is that until a president takes office who is willing to lead on the FairTax, it will be hard to pass the legislation.
“We’ve always known that,” he said. “The FairTax was not a Washington creation, it was a grassroots creation and we’re not going to get passed by leadership in Washington, we’re going to get passed across the grassroots, across the country.”
Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.