The Instigator
Danielle
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
East
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Flat Tax

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/21/2015 Category: Economics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,109 times Debate No: 68664
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)

 

Danielle

Pro

Many thanks to my opponent, East, for challenging me to this debate. Welcome to DDO!

I accept and will affirm the resolution in favor of a flat tax over a progressive tax system. Please note that I am somewhat playing devil's advocate in this debate. In fact, as a (laymen's terms) libertarian I would I prefer NO tax (with voluntary fees in lieu of taxes for services) but I digress. I will keep the first round pretty straight forward and to the point, with bullet point numbers to separate and clarify arguments.

I hope this is an interesting discussion . This will be a speedy debate as per your request :)

Thanks again, and good luck! I will begin my arguments in Round 2.
East

Con

Thanks Danielle. I'm looking forward to discussing this topic with one of the best debaters on the site.

For those who don't know, a flat tax is a consistent rate that every citizen would be taxed. A progressive tax is a system in which people with more money pay a higher rate of taxes. For example, we could have 10 citizens taxed at a flat rate of 10% and collect $100. Or under a progressive tax system, those 10 citizens would pay according to their ability. The 4 poorest citizens could only afford to pay $2 in taxes each, the fifth and sixth could pay $8 each, the seventh and eighth could afford $12 each, the ninth could afford to pay $20 and the top earning citizen could pay $32 in taxes. Instead of the citizens paying an equal flat rate, they would foot the bill according to what they could contribute. I will be arguing that position.

Thanks again for starting this up and good luck to you also.
Debate Round No. 1
Danielle

Pro

That's very nice of you to say, Con. Here we go...

1. While "pay according to your ability" sounds just, a flat tax is more fair. A progressive tax rate penalizes people for success, as higher income means higher tax rates. Sometimes this creates circumstances where one is actually rewarded for a pay cut. For example, suppose everyone who earns less than $100 a year is taxed at a rate of 5 percent, and if you make between $100-200, you are taxed at a rate of 10 percent. If I earned $98 a year, being taxed at just 5 percent I would walk away with $93.10. But if I earned a $4 raise and received $102 per year, and was taxed at a rate of 10 percent, I would wind up leaving with less than I started with before my raise - just $91.80. As such, it behooves some people to earn less just to stay in a lower tax bracket. That does not reward progress but instead punishes productivity.

2. Every year, corporations spend millions on accountants to try and beat the tax code. With a flat tax, businesses can make decisions designed to better serve the marketplace and their shareholders, rather than worry about ways to cheat the system.

3. Similarly, shifting away from a progressive tax rate would make filing for taxes easy, and the rules easier to comply with. This would reduce both errors and tax fraud. As a result, professional tax advisers would not be needed, thereby saving money for the average tax payer.

4. Another reason a flat tax makes sense is that this system would make it hard for lawmakers to create tax loopholes in exchange for campaign contributions and other personal favors. This would do wonders for the world of politics, and make politicians more accountable to their constituents rather than their biggest donors.

5. A flat tax rate could likely encourage investment and expansion, as additional profit is not taxed at a higher rate.

6. Under a flat tax system, instead of taxed income, much of the tax revenue collected is done so via purchases of goods and services. It can be assumed that people with more wealth will make more frequent and more expensive purchases anyway. As such, they will still be paying the majority of taxes.

7. Right now, the top 10% of earners pay over 70% of the nation's taxes. As a result, high-worth individuals hide their money in offshore accounts to try and lessen their tax burden. They also choose to relocate their citizenship and places of business to tax havens or locations that are more tax friendly. We have "evidence that tax receipts from the rich rise when the rate they're asked to pay goes down. When the top rate of tax was slashed from 73 percent to 25 percent in the 1920s, the share of taxes paid by those who made more than $100,000 a year - more than $1 million in today's money - increased from 28 percent to 51 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal" [1]. Therefore, if the argument is that the wealthy need to continue footing the bill for America's debt, then it would make sense to transition to a flat tax -- considering we have proof that lower tax rates lead to higher shares of taxes being paid!

8. Proponents of a progressive tax rate claim that those who "can afford to do so" bear the highest tax burden - but why? Just because someone can afford something doesn't mean they should be forced to pay for something. I can afford to buy my neighbor dinner, but my neighbor nor anyone else should demand that I do so just because I might have more money than him.

9. People with money invest in other ventures to encourage market growth and create jobs, which is good for the economy as a whole. It's also good for the advancement of technology and other things they invest in such as biomedical research. If wealthy people have to pay for other people instead of invest, it will inhibit progress. Meanwhile we have reason to believe that people can/will find a way to get by even without significantly taxing incomes at progressive rates.

10. Up until 1913 Americans kept all of their earnings. Despite this, we still had schools, colleges, roads, railroads, subways, the Army, Navy and Marines Corps (who happened to win 8 wars). We can afford to scale back on taxes and assume society would not fall into ruin. We could also afford a flat tax and not significantly burden the lower class by eliminating a lot of what we spend unnecessarily, i.e. pork spending and excessive military affairs for example. Estimates of around a 15% income tax rate are considered the flat tax rate status quo which is reasonable. The highest typical proposed rate is around 20% which is a lot more fair than the highest rate, who pay almost 40% in the U.S. today [2].

11. Despite the fact that the majority of taxes are paid by a small minority, a whopping 62% of Americans favor a flat tax. Amazingly this breaches party lines with 66% of Republicans, 68% of Independents and 52% of Democrats in agreement, which is a big feat in bipartisan support compared to most economic proposals [3].

12. The flat tax removes the section of the tax code that is biased against the formation of capital. It eliminates the death tax, capital gains tax and double taxation of savings and dividends [4].

13. A flat tax would eliminate the bias against saving an investment, which would translate to productive economic behavior and boost the economy's long term rate [5]. Instant wealth creation for people who would have otherwise paid taxes would allow them to compete and put America in a better position in the global market. Countries with higher tax rates are worse off than those with lower tax rates [6]

Conclusion

In conclusion, a flat tax offers simplicity, fairness and opportunities for significant and immediate growth. It would put an end to cronyism and political favoritism in politics, minimizing corruption and fostering integrity among politicians to represent their constituents rather than make deals pertaining to corporate tax loopholes. The rich would still pay the majority of taxes, as they would likely spend more money, more frequently (and pay sales tax). However they would also have access to income they would have otherwise been taxed, giving them the freedom to invest in research, technology and job growth. The majority of Americans across party lines support the flat tax, because it's the better tax policy.

[1] http://money.cnn.com...
[2] http://www.forbes.com...
[3] http://reason.com...
[4] http://smallbusiness.chron.com...
[5] http://www.heritage.org...
[6] http://www.heritage.org...
East

Con

Thanks Pro. I'm also going to keep my rebuttal short and to the point.

1. Pro says a flat tax is more fair, but I am arguing the opposite. In the process of determining wages, an employer has the upper hand in the negotiating process. The higher up the ladder in management and ownership you go at work, and the more capital you acquire as an individual, the more advantages you have in life. To subsidize the people with inherent disadvantages, the government guarantees what is considered bare minimum standards of living for its citizens. They change over time, and these are funded through taxes. The more wealth you have, the more you contribute as a matter of practicality; you can afford it. We value a progressive tax system because charging everyone the same rate of a flat tax would defeat the purpose of taxation helping people in the first place. A flat tax doesn't penalize people for success, because people still get rich and have a gap above others.

2. I concede point #2 because I don't think it's relevant. Moving on.

3. People do spend money on tax advisers, but that's because it saves them money in the long run as the advisers know how to optimize their benefits if they are deserving of tax credits. Tax advisers are not necessary. Mistakes are fairly easy to avoid even if you do your own taxes As for tax fraud, we should not have to make something incredibly simple just to ensure economic integrity and abiding by the law.

4. The same reasoning goes for point #4 in regard to politicians working with corporations to create tax loop holes. Rather then eliminate the progressive tax, we can discourage fraud and stop rewarding cronyism.

5. A flat tax rate would only benefit those wealthy enough to invest and expand in the first place. This does not do anything for the lower and middle class who rely on the top earners to contribute their "fair share." We suggest it's fair because they enjoy the privileges of their wealth, which should not come at the expense of other people's survival.

6. Pro says that sales tax can compensate for income tax, but I don't see how it can generate anywhere near the same revenue since we already have sales tax in most states in addition to income tax.

7. We have no reason to believe that people would not still hide money in off-shore accounts and do other criminal things even if we reduced the tax rate. People will always try to pay less than they have to, but that does not mean they SHOULD be paying more.

8. This goes along with point #8 about why rich people should have to foot the bill. See point #5.

9. Rich people with capital have to invest to continue earning profit, so they will invest and find ways to invest regardless.

10. Even if we cut spending, the U.S. has a ton of debt. What cutting should be spent and how much is also an ambiguous proposal by Pro. The people living below the poverty line and working for minimum wage cannot afford to contribute 20% of their earnings to government. 20% of 15K is $3,000 which means a flat tax rate of 20% would have a poor person earning 12K a year on minimum wage. That is impossible compared to a millionaire taxed at 20% who might pay $200,000 a year in taxes, which is a lot more but they can still afford to live on $800,000 vs. a poor person's 12K.

11. Just because the majority of people want something doesn't mean it's for the best. After 9/11 the majority of people wanted to go to war with Iraq, but when more evidence was attained and time passed, we got less emotional and chose something more rational. Now the majority of Americans disagree with that position.

12. I concede point #2 because I don't think it's relevant. Moving on.

13. Pro's suggestion is good for the wealthy, but ignores the burden on the middle class. The middle class will not benefit from this sudden tax break and will likely see a huge tax increase. They will not be able to save more, they will have to spend more. They will be in a worse position, less likely to become entrepreneurs and more indebted to the capitalist elite who can exploit them due to their circumstance.
Debate Round No. 2
Danielle

Pro

1. To begin, Con says it's not fair that some people have more wealth than others. Inequality is part of nature. Some people are better looking than others. Some people have inferior genetics and are more prone to illness and disease than others. Some people work harder and seize particular opportunities while others don't. Some have better/worse luck. Some have particular skills or strengths that others lack. Whatever the case may be, just because inequality exists does not mean something is inherently unfair.

Further, Con says that society is responsible for paying for the whims of the masses (he says government's function changes over time). This ignores my argument about responsibility. In the last round, I explained that just because someone can afford something doesn't mean they should be forced to pay for something. It is not our inherent responsibility to pay for things other people demand. Just because I can afford to buy my neighbor dinner, doesn't mean neighbor nor anyone else should demand that I do so even if I have more money than him.

In a vague response, Con explains people can make those demands of others (to foot the bill upon request) because they enjoy the privileges of their wealth, which should not come at the expense of other people's survival. Of course tax payers are expected to pay for a lot more than bare minimum survival of American citizens but I digress. This is Con's opinion presented in the form of a bare assertion. Again, inequality is part of nature. Consider a town where everyone starts out as equals, but part of it floods. Half the town loses their homes and property. The people whose homes did not get hit will now be wealthier than the other half, even though we initially accounted for equality. Or consider one of the homes who has a gambling father who gambles away the home; now a family is homeless and the kids have less opportunities than their neighbors. Yes, wealth inequality and opportunities will happen, but they are not automatically immoral. What IS immoral is punishing people for success.

In the last round, part of point #1 was that the progressive tax rate penalizes people for productivity. I gave an example with specific wages that outlined how getting a raise might turn out to be a negative thing under a progressive tax system because of how it's structured. My opponent dropped this argument.

2. My opponent has also dropped point #2 which is fine.

3. Con says tax advisers are not necessary because taxes are easy enough, but simultaneously exists that they can help people save money (indicating people need to put effort or knowledge into getting the best deal). This stands contrary to my argument about efficiency and simplicity under a flat tax. Con says that we should simply hope people stop committing tax fraud and lying rather than making the process transparent. However Con doesn't explain why. I've argued that transparency minimizes fraud and encourages honesty (more about that in a later point). Even accounting for less fraud, Con did not respond to the point about a flat tax being the simplest option; he merely says taxes should be easy enough for most people.

4. Again, East says that politicians should simply be held to a higher standard and expected to be honest rather than encourage policies that promote the highest chance of accountability. I'm arguing that the nature of politics makes it so that checks and balances is mandatory to achieve the best, most honest and fair results, and a flat tax makes honesty easy to account for.

5. Con writes, "A flat tax rate would only benefit those wealthy enough to invest and expand in the first place. This does not do anything for the lower and middle class who rely on the top earners to contribute their 'fair share." This perspective ignores several things. First, I've explained how the flat tax would allow for immediate investment and growth. This means the middle class would expand and their median earnings increase. Second, I've advocated for significant tax cuts, which should eliminate a lot of the burden for the middle (and lower) class. Third, the flat tax is still somewhat progressive in nature. When you tax everyone at the same rate, the rich pay much more in taxes than the middle class and the poor. With three times the income, you pay three times the tax, and so on. This accounts for Con's "fair share" argument - the rich are still paying a lot more.

6. Also consider my point about the rich still paying more in taxes due to more spending and more frequent spending. Con says he's unsure how this can compensate for the flat tax proposal. First, economists would have to figure out a budget with fair percentage. Like I said, between 15-20% seems to be the standard proposed flat tax rate [1]. Further reduced spending should alleviate some of the burden.

7. Con says we have "no reason to believe" people would behave more honestly with a fair tax, except we do - because in the last round I included a cited source with an explanation detailing comparative studies. With lower tax rates, the rich were more likely to be accountable for their "fair share" of taxes as I outlined in the previous round [2]. Con cannot say we have "no reason to believe" something when the reason is evidence of the comparison in practice.

8. Point #8 is about whether or not people who have money have a social responsibility to foot the bill. Extend previous arguments, and moreover consider that the rich still foot the majority of the bill under a flat tax.

9. My opponent dismisses the importance of this point. I've argued that immediate tax cuts would give the wealthy the opportunity and incentive to invest in ventures that could result in the benefit of society - not only in job creation, but say in areas of pharmaceuticals, science, robotics, engineering and other endeavors that require financing. Con says rich people have the incentive to invest in these measures regardless. While that might be true, tax cuts give people access to immediate cash for investment and not just a future possibility/hope of investment.

10. Con says that the lower class simply cannot afford to pay 15-20% of their wages in taxes. However with reduced spending and more accountability, that is not necessarily the case. Given access to social programs, social services, tax refunds, rebates and more opportunities that a flat tax would yield, we have no reason to assume the poor would not be able to survive. We should assume they would be better off given the market enhancements and job opportunities among other growth.

11. My opponent writes that just because the majority of people want something does not mean it's for the best. While I would agree, this country is a democratic republic. Voters elect politicians to represent them and their interests. When voters disagree, there is political gridlock and nothing is accomplished. When voters and politicians can agree on policy, it is probably better than when less or no people can agree. Con has not denied the significance of such a great number of people on both sides of the aisle agreeing on this particular issue; he's simply ignored it which is telling.

12. My opponent says he also concedes point #12 and that's fine.

13. In conclusion, Con repeats the alleged burden the flat tax would place on the middle class. In referring to point #10 along with consideration of aforementioned points, a flat tax provides a definitive opportunity for incredible growth. This would allow the middle class to grow and expand, so it cannot be compared to the middle class of today which is disappearing and struggling. More jobs, opportunity and growth would help the middle class thrive under a flat tax. Further less frivolous spending and more accountability for our tax dollars would alleviate the burden for tax payers.

[1] http://www.cnn.com...
[2] http://money.cnn.com...
East

Con

1. Pro says that the progressive tax punishes people for success, but I've already said success is rewarded even if the wealth gap is closed. The wealth gap today is exploding [A]. Rich people can afford to pay a progressive tax rate because their wealth is still so high above others. They are not being burdened into poverty, whereas the flat tax can burden the middle and lower class into poverty. Pro is correct that inequality exists, but that doesn't mean we should not take measures to help people which benefits society as a whole. It gives poor people more opportunities to contribute to the market and society.

In Pro's example where getting a raise winds up getting the person less money, I would say employers need to make sure they are working in compliance with the tax code so as to not penalize their employees but actually reward them if that is the intention.

2. Point #2 is dropped.

3. I have said that the IRS should make the tax code as simple as possible, but still go by a progressive tax system. This will help reduce confusion and fraud. I don't see why it has to be the flat tax or something confusing and why it can't be understandable but progressive.

4. Crooked politicians should be held accountable for cheating with corporations. That is separate from the issue of progressive vs. flat tax rates.

5. Under the flat tax the rich still pay more, but not enough more. That is the point.

6. See point #5.

7. We should push for honesty, transparency and accountability under a progressive tax. There is no need to eliminate this idea just because some people are incentivized to cheat or scam the system. In that case almost any policy could be ignored or thrown out, because none are perfect.

8. Yes I believe people who can afford to do so have a social responsibility to foot the bill not only because it's the decent thing to do, but the practical thing to do. It allows for the advancement of ideas and opportunity for more people to be productive and contribute to the world in a positive way, rather than just struggle to get by.

9. Pro says she values things like innovation and yet does not want to take measures to ensure more people have opportunities to be useful and creative.

10. Pro cannot deny that a flat tax would burden the middle and lower class. If they are not exceeding now without it, then when they are expected to pay more in taxes they will clearly be doing worse off than they are now, no matter what.

11. I will concede that a majority of people want the flat tax, but a majority of people do not understand how it works and how it would affect them. This is not a compelling argument against the utility and moral value of a progressive tax.

12. Same thing for #12.

13. Pro finishes by saying there would be no burden on the middle class again. While more jobs might be available to the middle class, if they are taxed at higher rates then it doesn't translate to more wealth. They could break out even or even still wind up with less, depending on their end income and the tax rate.

[A] http://equitablegrowth.org...
Debate Round No. 3
Danielle

Pro

Many thanks to my opponent, East, for engaging with me in this debate. I hope this has been a welcomed introduction to DDO. With that said, keep in mind that my opponent can not make any new arguments in the last round, as I will not have a chance to respond. Here is my closing statement…

1. The progressive tax does in fact punish people for success. I've explained this in the previous rounds. Higher income means higher tax rates, and often the tax bracket is structured to penalize people who move up in income to the point where a raise actually penalizes them and leaves them walking away with less money. Con has responded that employers should "try to avoid this" but that is not a legal solution. Employers should probably do a lot of things that they do not because they are not required to. A flat tax should be adopted to encourage fairness. It is no extra burden to the employer, and encourages due reward for employees.

2. As a reminder, my second point was about how corporations can avoid spending millions of dollars on accountants and lobbyists trying to find ways to beat the tax code if a fair tax were adopted. This would leave more time, money and energy to devote to the company's success and their shareholder's reward. Considering many people in the middle class are shareholders, this is a good deal. Con has repeatedly dropped/conceded this argument, so I just wanted to include a reminder for consideration in the closing.

3. Third, Con says the IRS should "make the tax code as simple as possible" but keep it progressive. This ignores my argument that the progressive tax system is hard to be kept simple, which Con has not denied. He acknowledged that many people can and probably should hire accountants to help them figure out how to get the best deal on their taxes, rather than assume everyone has the same easy standard to abide by. Con cannot deny that a progressive system allows not only for mistakes but fraud and corruption. Because of the confusing nature, sometimes fraud can be covered up as a "mistake." A flat tax is simply an easier solution that helps deter both fraud and error. This could wind up saving or generating millions in tax revenue.

4. Similarly, Con says politicians need to be kept in check regarding corruption related to tax fraud. However that is not a reasonable response and certainly offers no solution to the issue. Politicians are in bed with corporations particularly when it comes to the issue of taxes [1] and tax subsidies [2]. Eliminating the potential for easier corruption gives citizens peace of mind, and fosters better incentives for governing. Con has offered no solution and simply repeats "crooked politicians should be held accountable." Yes, they should, but a flat tax discourages crooked politicking in the first place which Con has ignored.

5. My opponent cannot deny the rich still pay more under a flat tax, but suggests "not enough more." I'm not sure if he's referring to either logistical numbers, or in terms of moral obligation. In regard to the numbers, I've explained about the need for tax reform and less spending. Working with a stricter budget where it is harder for politicians to embezzle tax money will encourage better financial decisions.

6. On that same token, the issue of our alleged social responsibility once again comes into play. Refer to point #8.

7. Con repeats, "We should push for honesty, transparency and accountability under a progressive tax. There is no need to eliminate this idea just because some people are incentivized to cheat or scam the system." As I've explained, a flat tax is simply the easiest and most transparent method of taxation. It is almost impossible to mess up or cheat because it can be so easily measured. If Con acknowledges that the rich still foot most of the bill (and if economists can figure out an equal ratio tax percentage to sustain the funding we need) it should not be an issue.

8. The issue that does arise is mostly one of social responsibility. Con suggests that even though the rich pay for most of the services even under a flat tax, a progressive tax is more fair because rich people should simply pay for the VAST majority of taxes. This ignores virtually all of my points from previous rounds about the tyrannical use of government force, and tyranny of the democratic majority making demands against those with more money. Just because someone can afford to pay for something doesn't mean they should have to. Con has dropped this argument and my example.

To repeat, yes I can afford to buy my neighbor dinner. I probably have more money than my neighbor. However my neighbor nor anyone else should be able to demand through force that I buy my neighbor dinner just because I can afford to do so and have more money than him. Again, Con has dropped this analogy and it's too late for him to respond.

What Con did note was that "[a progressive tax] allows for the advancement of ideas and opportunity for more people to be productive and contribute to the world in a positive way, rather than just struggle to get by." This suggests that only rich people can contribute to the world in a positive way which is not true. The best art and innovation is born from struggle. People in low-income tax brackets are still afforded opportunities through tax funded programs such as access to education, health care, etc. Con is appealing to emotion and guilt in arguing only a progressive tax system yields opportunity. However this is a misguided assumption considering a flat tax would still fund government programs that are available today.

9. Con writes, "Pro says she values things like innovation and yet does not want to take measures to ensure more people have opportunities to be useful and creative." Extend my previous argument about a flat tax still affording similar opportunities. Furthermore extend my previous point about how a flat tax would free up immediate cash for the capital class to invest more in new research, technology and job creation. This is beneficial to the middle and lower class.

10. Con notes "Pro cannot deny that a flat tax would burden the middle and lower class. If they are not exceeding now without it, then when they are expected to pay more in taxes they will clearly be doing worse off than they are now, no matter what." Once again, with reduced spending and more accountability, that is not necessarily the case if we can minimize tax expenses. Given access to social programs, social services, tax refunds, rebates and more opportunities that a flat tax would yield, we have no reason to assume the poor would not be able to survive. We should assume they would be better off given the market enhancements and job opportunities among other growth.

While Con wants us to think about how the lower classes would be paying more taxes, he ignores that they would also be likely to earn more money and move their way up in class. This is similar to the growth of the American economy in the 1980s when investors were able to expand, do research and create jobs [3]. While Con is correct that the lower and middle class cannot currently afford to pay more, that is not necessarily the case and probably would not be the case if the market boomed thanks to a flat tax rate.

11. My opponent concedes that a majority of people want the flat tax, but says a majority of people do not understand how it works and how it would affect them. Whether or not that's true does not change the American political process, how politicians get elected, and how laws are enacted. Widespread bipartisan support for this cause is significant in terms of political progress. It is reasonable to assume most people want to adopt this policy because it helps most individuals and the American economy as a whole. Con suggests that the public is simply uninformed on this issue, but we have no reason to assume so many citizens are clueless. In fact the arguments for a flat tax are so reasonable that it simply makes sense to most people.

12. On that note, my opponent had also forfeited point #12 in my favor. To repeat the claim, I mentioned that the flat tax removes the section of the tax code that is biased against the formation of capital. It eliminates the death tax, capital gains tax and double taxation of savings and dividends. Con acknowledges this but doesn't think it's relevant.

13. In conclusion, Con states "While more jobs might be available to the middle class, if they are taxed at higher rates then it doesn't translate to more wealth. They could break out even or even still wind up with less, depending on their end income and the tax rate." This goes along with my argument from point #10. Even if the middle class wound up breaking even or even paying more, it does not negate my previous arguments on social responsibility and equality. Once again, nature does not create everyone equally or born into equal circumstances. We might all have equal value in terms of human life, but not assets. Just because some people might struggle more than others is not an inherently immoral even if it is unfortunate.

Conclusion

In this debate, I've proven that a flat tax offers simplicity, fairness and opportunities for significant and immediate growth. It would put an end to cronyism and political favoritism in politics, minimizing corruption and fostering integrity among politicians. The rich would still pay the majority of taxes, yet have the opportunity for freed up wealth to invest in research, technology and job creation. This would benefit society (and the market) as a whole, which is why the majority of Americans support this policy.

[1] http://pointsandfigures.com...
[2] http://humanevents.com...
[3] http://www.heritage.org...
East

Con

Thank you again to my opponent for taking the time to debate this with me. She has brought up some interesting arguments that I have thought about.

1. Pro repeats that progressive tax rates punish people for success, but paying higher tax rates is not a punishment. They are a responsibility that goes with the territory of success. A punishment is a penalty but a responsibility is an expectation. If I have to pass my driver's test to get a license that is not a penalty, that is part of the process if I want the privilege of driving. If you earn more money, it is not a penalty to pay taxes but part of the process of the American tax system. Pro says that a flat tax embraces fairness, but I've explained why it's fair to expect those with more money to pay higher tax rates. They can afford it comfortably whereas other people struggle to get by, which is not good for them or the overall economy. No man is an island. We are all in this market and community (country) together as Americans, that is why we have the social contract that justifies taxes in the first place [A].

2. Dropped

3. A progressive tax rate can be very simple. For instance it can be divided into 5 tiers or even 4, and the percentage you pay is according to which of the 4 or 5 brackets you fall into. That is not difficult to understand. Fraud occurs not because the tax process is hard to understand, but because people lie and hide assets, which would still happen even with a flat tax.

4. Other laws holding politicians accountable should be put in place separate from the issue of progressive vs. flat taxes. For instance if you pass laws that show complete transparency in corporate donors, or eliminate the revolving door in politics, then cronyism would be minimized among politicians without having to change the structure of the tax code.

5. Dropped

6. Dropped

7. Dropped

8. I could drop those other points, because they are repeated contentions. Many of them have to do with social responsibility which I have repeatedly addressed also. People who struggle financially are severely burdened emotionally and with debt. This is bad for their well being [B] and affects their ability to work and be productive in society. We are not an island, so other people's influence affects us and we all benefit from as little people struggling as possible. We should minimize suffering and so many people suffer from financial stress. Meanwhile the richest people do not suffer at all or barely even notice when they are taxed at rates which seem high to the rest of us, but barely put a dent in their finances. At the end of the day money is just paper and people's lives are what matter. The rich people will still find a way to flourish and stay rich, while the poor and middle class need a little help from the government to keep the rich in check, the same way the rich rely on the government to help keep the poor people poor.

9. A flat tax would free up immediate cash, but the wealthy will just invest that cash in business overseas where there is cheaper labor. That will not do much for the rest of middle or impoverished America.

10. That's the reason we can assume that people in America would not be better off with a flat tax.

11. Most people don't realize they are being screwed by the wealthy because they live under the faulty assumption that they can be one of them someday if they "work hard enough." People are also brainwashed to believe their taxes go to fund lazy poor people which is why they think they want a flat tax. They don't realize how much their taxes will actually increase if the super rich pay a lower rate.

12. Dropped

13. Again it goes back to the argument of social responsibility. Pro says inequality is an inherent part of nature. That is true but so are natural disasters and we account for them and try to protect against them and the danger they can create. Drastic wealth inequality is not good for this country [C] so we should help keep it to a minimum with a progressive tax rate.

CONCLUSION

We have a social responsibility to take care of the people around us who are a part of our lives and whose lives in turn affect ours and the progress we can make as individuals and as a country. It will alleviate the most stress on more people to utilize a progressive tax rate over a flat tax rate.

[A] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[B] http://www.debt.org...
[C] http://thepolitic.org...
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Fly 1 year ago
Fly
Neither debater understands how marginal tax rates work, but that is incredibly common...
Posted by bluesteel 1 year ago
bluesteel
ADDENDUM

Had Con actually proven that serious budget cuts would be necessitated, Pro would have had a problem because Pro argues that the same politicians who cannot avoid cronyism in the tax code will somehow be able to eliminate pork barrel and other wasteful spending. It seems a tough sell that we can get by on more efficient spending, when we have to rely on the same politicians that Pro proves are incapable of making reasoned and fair decisions. I wish the debate had gone here, but it did not.
Posted by bluesteel 1 year ago
bluesteel
Part II

And Pro says that the middle class will be better off due to trickle down effects and corporations earning more money (because the middle class are also shareholders). I have nothing to weigh against that because I don't know how much money the middle class is losing due to higher taxes (as an aside, does the middle class even pay a higher rate? 20% seems lower than what a lot of people pay now; I don't factor this in, but I'd have liked to see this explored).

Ultimately, Con does not build his own case for the progressive tax system, but relies only on rebuttals, which is usually a losing strategy. Pro shows substantial benefits. I think the cronyism point is also a strong one, given that it's harder for Congress to pass loopholes under a flat tax system. Con's response is too utopian, hoping that politicians magically become less corrupt, but never explains how we reach a world where politicians magically stop producing a bevy of loopholes. So I have a more fair system in many ways on Pro's side because the rich cannot lobby for loopholes, the rich pay more in taxes because they cannot rely on these loopholes, and people stop trying to cheat the system as much. I'm left with a claim that the government can actually collect more in taxes potentially. And I'm left with substantial trickle down benefits. It's not hard to argue that trickle down economics is untrue, but Con makes no attempt to do so. So ultimately, I'm left with a lot of benefits on Pro's side and only an unquantified worry that the poor cannot afford the 20% rate. So I vote Pro.

On sources, Pro at least sourced many of her claims, whereas Con does not source anything. Con makes no attempt to provide facts or statistics on the aggregate effects of a flat tax system. Con misses major points in this area because it makes it impossible to evaluate many of Con's claims. That's why I felt compelled to vote on sources, when I usually don't award that point.
Posted by bluesteel 1 year ago
bluesteel
RFD - Part I

Pro argues that a flat tax would results in the wealthy actually paying more money because there is less incentive to and it becomes harder to cheat the system. Con never negates Pro's example that this is precisely what happened in 1920's. At the end of the debate, I'm left not really knowing the aggregate effect on government income from implementing a flat tax. Neither Pro nor Con tells me, and it would seem to behoove Con to tell me the aggregate effect. As it is, I have to assume the aggregate effect is negligible because Pro tells me that we will collect more money in taxes to compensate. Pro seems to concede that there is some negative effect, by arguing that we can cut government spending, but I'm not told how large the effect is, so I don't know if Con's predictions about cutting social programs will come to pass. It's hard to award Con much offense here without getting some sense of how much money is going to need to be cut from the federal budget.

Con makes arguments about social welfare that the rich owe a responsibility to pay their fair share. Pro says that inequality is inherent to nature, and there is no obligation to buy your neighbor dinner just because you can. The obvious response seems to be that what is true on an individual level is not necessarily true at a societal level, but Con never attempts to grapple with Pro's example, so I have to grant Pro the full impact of this example, meaning that Pro wins there is no moral obligation to pay what you can.

Con's strongest argument is that the lower classes cannot afford to pay a 20% tax rate. However, I'm not told what they pay now under a progressive system, so it's hard to evaluate the additional burden on the lower classes. This is a huge mistake by Con: not saying what the rates are now.
Posted by NoMagic 1 year ago
NoMagic
The flat tax isn't a fair system. It seems fair on the surface, however if you think about the nature of money and wealth, it becomes apparent it isn't fair. If you have money, it is easy to make money. Money flows up due to profit. Taxing the wealthy at a higher rate is fair because it is easier for the wealthy to make money. For 2000-2014, 90% of economic gains went to the top 5%. Making money is easy when you have it. This inherent truth is the justification for a progressive structure which is more fair due to the unfairness of making money.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Paleophyte 1 year ago
Paleophyte
DanielleEastTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate by both sides. Pro made better arguments and Con missed a few opportunities. As much as I agree with Con's position, points go to Pro.
Vote Placed by bluesteel 1 year ago
bluesteel
DanielleEastTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments