FairTax in A Minute – Does the FairTax improve compliance and reduce evasion when compared to the current income tax?
The old aphorism that nothing is certain except death and taxes should be modified to include tax evasion. Tax evasion is chronic under any system so complex as to be incomprehensible. As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), tax evasion in 2001 is beyond 2.6 percent, compared to 1.6 percent in 1991. This represents over 16 percent of taxes due. Almost 40 percent of the public, according to the IRS, is out of compliance with the present tax system, mostly unintentionally due to the enormous complexity of the present system. These IRS figures do not include taxes lost on illegal sources of income with a criminal economy estimated at a trillion dollars. All this, despite a major enforcement effort and assessment of tens of millions of civil penalties on American taxpayers in an effort to force compliance with the tax system. Disrespect for the tax system and the law has reached dangerous levels and makes a system based on taxpayer self-assessment less and less viable.
The FairTax reduces rather than increases the problem of tax evasion. The increased fairness, transparency, and legitimacy of the system induces more compliance. The roughly 90-percent reduction in filers enables tax administrators more narrowly and effectively to address noncompliance and increases the likelihood of tax evasion discovery. The relative simplicity of the FairTax promotes compliance. Businesses need answer only one question to determine the tax due: How much was sold to consumers? Finally, because tax rates decrease, tax evasion is less profitable; and because of the dramatic reduction in the number of tax filers, tax evaders are more easily monitored and caught under the FairTax system.