The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has come under intense scrutiny this year due to its targeting of the conservative and Tea Party organizations that were trying to apply for tax-exempt status. For many, that scandal highlighted the need to do away with the embattled agency and find a better, less privacy invasive way for the federal government to collect revenue.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has taken up this cause. He has introduced H.J. Res. 104, a measure to repeal the 16th Amendment of the Constitution, which authorizes the federal government to levy and collect the income tax.
“Viable alternative plans for raising revenue fairly to support constitutionally enumerated functions of the federal government have been proposed. As long as the 16th Amendment is in place and lobbyists dominate Washington, these alternatives will never be considered,” said Bridenstine in a press release.
Bridenstine is a cosponsor to the Fair Tax Act, which would also repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax. The “Fair Tax” would establish a 23% national retail sales tax. His office said that his 16th Amendment repeal measure also had support from activists who back the flat tax.
The Oklahoma Republican contends that the current tax system is too complex, unfair, and discourages entrepreneurial spirit of Americans and job creation. He also noted that the time needed for taxpayers to comply with the tax code is burdensome.
The Tax Foundation explained earlier this year that Americans spend 6.1 billion hours and $168 billion to comply with the current tax code. The think tank also noted that expenditures in the tax code (ie. tax credits, exemptions, and deductions) cost the government $1.09 trillion.
Repealing the onerous tax code not only a matter of fairness, it’s also a privacy issue, according to Bridenstine.
“The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees ‘The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.’ The 16th Amendment effectively negates the 4th Amendment. The 16th Amendment should be repealed and the IRS should be eliminated,” he added.
Bridenstine chatted with talk show host Mike Huckabee about the measure, in which he spoke at length about his proposal, the problems with the IRS, and the lack of trust Americans have in the agency after its targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups.
Original cosponsors to the measure are Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). It has been endorsed by the Coalition to Repeal the Income Tax, which is comprised of several free market and Tea Party groups. The measure has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Like all amendments to the Constitution, H.J. Res. 104 would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of both chambers and three-fifths of the state legislatures, per Article V. The last constitutional amendment approved was the 27th Amendment. It was ratified on May 7, 1992, nearly 203 years after it was proposed by James Madison.