The fourth Republican presidential debate on Tuesday focused entirely on economic policies that included the minimum wage, military spending, and taxes. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina repeatedly alluded to a three-page tax plan that she help create if elected president. How can you read Fiorina's three-page tax plan? Well, after much fanfare, her team finally released the minimalist proposal during the debate via her Facebook.
During the debate, when Fiorina mentioned a three-page tax plan, Twitter was very confused. Fiorina had previously said that she would not release a specific tax plan, because "politicians put out detailed plans for all kinds of things that never happen," according to The Fiscal Times. She said that she would prefer someone ask her about her plan, so that she could later be held accountable for it. But then, during the debate, her team released the mysterious proposal.
Sure enough, her campaign posted a Facebook status saying that the U.S. tax code "needs to go from 73,000 pages down to about three pages." The plan detailed in the Facebook status is similar to other flat tax system proposed by a few of the other GOP candidates. Fiorina's system, though, would be aimed at keeping the flat tax rate low for businesses and individuals, according to the status:
The Hall-Rabushka tax code is actually three pages, and it is pretty simple, according to a University of Chicago review. It proposes a single income tax rate with only a few deductions. It simply aims to make the tax system less complicated, but it also operates on the assumption that a marginal tax rate, which taxes people more as their incomes increase, could discourage entrepreneurial ideas and investments by those who become successful.
But flat tax rate systems have been heavily criticized for a number of reasons. John Hewitt, founder and CEO of Liberty Tax Service, criticized Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's similar flat tax proposal in a column for Inc. Hewitt said that, in his line of work, U.S. citizens constantly say they wish taxes were lower, and a flat rate tax system would increase taxes for many Americans who either don't pay taxes or are paying fewer taxes than what the flat rate would be. Hewitt argues:
Is it fair to tax a single mother of 3 children the same as a single person without kids? Think about the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Is it fair to tax them at the same rate as the citizens of Chicago, who aren't battling hurricanes and floods? Should we forget about Americans who suddenly face high medical expenses or lose their home in a fire? As an entrepreneur, what if you face a personal loss and have no savings to draw upon?
These are common critiques of the flat tax system, like the one that Fiorina has now proposed. Americans face different circumstances every day, and a flat tax system doesn't recognize those differences.