As Congress considers doing away with income tax deductions for mortgage interest, it also is considering doing away with the tax deduction for charitable giving. What’s next? No deduction for children? No deduction for taxes already paid?
All those deductions are like almost all tax breaks. They were passed by Congress to reward certain types of behavior. Congress thought it would be good for people to support charities, so it made charitable contributions deductible from taxable income. Congress thought it would be good for people to have children. So it created standard deductions for the little tykes.
Congress also has mandated tax breaks for big donors. The oil-depletion allowance comes to mind.
And then there are subsidies of various sorts for everything from sugar to “green” power.
And then there are the 47 percent of Americans who hardly pay any income taxes at all. How are they getting away with that? Again, Congress was doing what it thought were necessary favors for certain classes of people.
Doing this, it went about cutting its own income while increasing its spending, covering the margin by borrowing.
The way to be fair to all would be to end all deductions and subsidies and replace them with a so-called flat tax where everybody would pay the same percentage of taxes on all income with no deductions for anything. The next step would be to raise the percentage of taxes to fight wars, subsidize sugar or whatever — so that all would feel the effects equally. But that won’t happen.
Congress uses the tax code as a means to reward its friends and punish its enemies. The political parties use it to maneuver themselves to be viewed more favorably by certain classes of voters.
Congress is down to raiding the coffers of churches and charities. How much lower can it stoop?