The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Flat Tax

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/11/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 977 times Debate No: 89508
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I will demonstrate the benefits of the flat tax, and my opponent will demonstrate its shortcomings.


Thank you Pro for starting this debate.

No definitions were given, so I will bestow the definition of “Flat Tax”.

[1] Flat Tax- a tax system in which all income, regardless of level, is taxed at the same rate

I will be arguing that implementing a flat tax out weights the benefits of implementing a flat tax.
Goodluck! :)



Debate Round No. 1


Thank you. I would like to point out that I personally believe that an elimination of income tax in favor of an increased sales tax would be beneficial, so I will specifically be debating that a flat tax is superior to a progressive tax.

The concept of a progressive tax is indeed an appealing argument. Increased taxes on the rich allow the poor to be under less of a financial burden from the government. However, the system is inherently flawed. Our economy is based on returns on investment, specifically investment of time and labor in this case. An increase in time and labor spent leads to a proportional increase in pay, whether it be monetary or related to other things, such as working conditions. A progressive tax hinders and in some extreme cases even removes that system: under a progressive tax, an increase in labor leads to a less substantial return. This disincentivizes hard work, giving people a better work to money ratio with lower salaries. And at the point where an increase in work gives a smaller return than the benefits of working less, people will stay at their level of work, as they consider it foolish to work any harder. So instead of increasing the benefits of people in more difficult situations, it reduces our GDP substantially, which over time makes it more difficult to provide for them.

The flaw with the progressive tax system is that it assumes that people are solely driven by money. If people are driven only by money, anyone with the ability to work more would choose to, so people in poorer conditions must have been let down by the economy, and need help to be put back into it. This would also imply that people with larger salaries would not be deterred by an increased tax: more money, even if not a great amount, is still more money, right? However, there are more factors at play. Specifically, earning money requires work. There is a point for all people for which a certain increase in work is not worth a given increase in money. If someone will not make much more by doubling their hours, they will continue working the amount that they are. So in a progressive tax system, people are incentivized to work less at lower salaries than in a flat tax system, where people would be willing to work more at higher salaries.

In a flat tax system, we cannot assume that people will not receive as much money or as many benefits solely because the government does not provide them. In a flat tax system, if people find a certain salary not worth the work it demands, companies will not have a sufficient amount of employees, and will increase their benefits in order to attract more potential employees. So the people already have the ability to improve their benefits: they can leave jobs with insufficient benefits to move to jobs that either have better benefits or less work. This over time will deplete the human capital of a company with lower pay, and they will be forced to increase their benefits to survive as a company. So a progressive tax is trying to accommodate for something a flat tax system already allows.

In conclusion, the progressive taxation system is a fundamentally ineffective system that attempts to compebsate for a power to the people already provided by a flat tax, while a flat tax system is superior both for the economy and the individual.

Please only respond with your opening statements and not with rebuttals, which will be withheld until round 3.


Thank you, Pro!

Flat tax may look nice, and fait, but when you look deeper into the issue, it is quite the opposite. The flat tax will benefit the rich, because they will pay less, and implementing a flat tax will hurt working class people. Implementing a flat tax, would only be fair if every person and worker made the same salary.

[1] Opponents of the flat tax contend that the flat tax system penalizes the low-income segment of the population. Low-income individuals and families must spend money on the same necessities required by higher-income people. However, after the necessities are purchased, the poorer taxpayers, because they earn less, will have less money left over to pay taxes, at the same rate as those earning higher income amounts. Implementing a flat tax system could dismantle the IRS.

A lot of people believe that a flat tax system reduces the taxes, and will benefit high-income earners.

“For example, if the tax rate were 10 percent, then someone making $1,000 would have $900 spending income left after taxes. Someone who makes $10,000 is left with $9,000 after taxes; this inequity is thought to prove that a flat tax disproportionately benefits the rich. If the rich paid less tax, many believe that the government would lose significant revenue. A uniform tax rate treats individuals and corporations fairly, but it eliminates a backup revenue source, the extra dollars generated by taxing high-income earners at a higher rate for the government. The government relies heavily on revenue generated from income taxes.”

As we can see here, a flat tax will only benefit the rich, and not the working class. For low income taxpayers, implementing such a tax could lead these families into penury.

Not only would a Flat-Tax be completely unfair, and hurt working-class families, but it would also hurt the economy. Let us use the state of Arizona for an example.

[2] "The shifting of tax burden to low- and middle-income households will have a dampening effect on total demand and hence on economic activity in Arizona,…..

About 12 percent of taxpayers would pay less, all of whom earn $100,000 or more per year.

"Although the flat tax bill anticipated to be presented in 2012 may be somewhat different, any flat tax bill if passed will cut income taxes for highest-income Arizonans and substantially shift tax burden to low-and middle-income households," according to the UA study.

The study estimates that a flat tax, like the one proposed in the last legislative session, would shift $400 million of the states income-tax burden to families and individuals who earn less than $100,000 per year”

People in the tax brackets earning more than $1 million would receive the largest cuts, at 45 percent, according to the study.

Those earning up to $10,000 annually would see the largest increase, at nearly 10 fold. The $10,000 to $20,000 bracket would see an increase larger than 300 percent and people earning between $20,000 and $30,000 would see a 94 percent tax increase.”

As we can see, a flat tax is completely unfair to working class, low-income families, and would benefit the rich, a great amount; it is also very hurtful to the economy. IRS workers could also lose their jobs due to a flat tax.





Debate Round No. 2


You make three points in your argument: the effect of the flat tax on the poor, the effect on the rich, and the effect on the economy. I will approach them in that order.

It seems obvious that a switch from our current system to a flat tax system would have a negative effect on the poor: their tax average would increase, and therefore they would have less money. In the short term, this is absolutely true. However, in the long term, the effect is quite the opposite. The increase in the poor's demand for money would lead many people away from low paying jobs, ensuring that companies compete more for their employees, raising their wages and benefits. So the mass change in needs of the poor would have a large positive effect on companies with high wages, due to the increased opportunity cost of staying at a convenient job with lower pay, and companies with low wages would lose money or raise wages to compete. In fact, one study showed that the implementation of a flat tax would increase aftertax income of people currently in the lowest tax bracket by an average of 7% because of this [1].

This leads into the argument against your claim that the taxes would benefit the rich. The vast majority of the rich are owners of large companies, with a large number of employees. Again, it seems blatantly clear that decreasing the taxes of the rich would increase their aftertax income. However, at some point this break will run out on them if they allow enough workers to leave due to better wages at a different company. So they must reduce their pay, or at least the pay of the high level employees at their company, in order to maintain headcount. So the reditribution of wealth due to the change in taxes will be nullified by the competition for labor it will create.

Finally, you claim that the redistibution of wealth will dampen demand due to the inability of the poor to afford luxuries. However, as I said in my original statement, the incentivization of labor will increase labor participation, which wil necessarily increase the velocity of money, even here in Arizona.

In conclusion, we see that when looking at the effects of the flat tax, despite predispositions, it will actually increase the income of the poor, decrease the income of the wealthy, and improve the economy.



“The increase in the poor's demand for money would lead many people away from low paying jobs, ensuring that companies compete more for their employees, raising their wages and benefits.”

First off, my opponent conceded that implementing a flat tax would be completely unfair. My opponent claims that a flat tax would benefit countries. But, flat tax can shut down companies, more so than having a positive effect.

[1] Not only would a flat tax widen wealth inequality in the country, opponents say it might allow the rich to duck paying taxes on a large portion of their income. Many proposals exempt investment income, which can be a major source of money for some affluent households. Small businesses may also suffer under a flat tax if they are unable to deduct expenses that cut into profits.

In 2011, we had already tried out a flat tax, which failed, miserably.

[1] 2011. Several Republican presidential candidates embraced the flat tax that year. Herman Cain recommended it be set at 9 percent while Rick Perry proposed an optional 20 percent tax. However, these proposals and others like them have failed to gain traction. It’s not necessarily because people love the current tax system. Even those who oppose the flat tax say our current tax code is broken.

This is why we have “History” in schools, to learn from past mistakes, and to not repeat them.

“This leads into the argument against your claim that the taxes would benefit the rich. The vast majority of the rich are owners of large companies, with a large number of employees.”

My opponent is making the assumption that all wealthy people are business owners, which isn’t true. As I have stated previously, regardless how you get your money, and if you’re rich, a flat tax is completely unfair.

[2] It gets worse. Flat tax proposals would exempt investment income, which largely goes to the rich. Our personal income tax already taxes capital gains and stock dividends at lower rates than wages, which mostly benefits the richest 1 percent of taxpayers. Rather than eliminating these and other special breaks, the flat tax proposals would expand them into one big exemption for investment income.

As we can see, not only is a flat tax, completely unfair, but it is also bad for businesses which refutes my opponents arguments.




Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by flyingpurplepeopleeater 2 years ago
Good points, Joaquin. Thank you for your time.

You are correct that my statement technically contradicts the law of diminishing marginal utility. I omitted that to save time: what actually happens is the progressive tax increases the effects of diminishing marginal utility of labor, while the flat tax keeps it at its natural, more managable rate.

I believe i misread your second claim the first time, but I think you are trying to say that the system doesn't factor in the elderly and the disabled. You are absolutely right. My position is that a) we need to improve the education system to include more vocational training in order to make sure that able bodied people are able to support themselves, and b) that we provide for the elderly and disabled (after limiting the government definition of 'disabled'), but no other group. Thank you for pointing this out. However, this method maintains the incentive to work the flat tax upholds, provided that the definition of disabled is limited enough and the pay for the disabled isn't grotesquely high.
Posted by JoaquinBarzi 2 years ago
Pro may i ask you some questions? (Note: i dont agree with neither of the positions, i am staying neutral since i dont know enough on the topic)

You say in your first round argument, and i quote: "An increase in time and labor spent leads to a proportional increase in pay, whether it be monetary or related to other things, such as working conditions.", doesn't this contradict the law of diminishing marginal utility?

Also, this is just an idea that came to mind. Wouldn't fierce competition drives the price of human labour below their most inefficient providers costs? In any normal market i would say "great, who needs inefficient products anyway? its better for the market to get rid of them in order to get better options. "
But it so happens that in human labour, a product being to inefficient for it to keep being produced means a human being not being able to support himself. In this case the product being taken out of the market would be, well, that person dying. It so happens that most of the times, that inefficient producer of labour is an old person or a sick one.

Does this make the labour market intrinsicly different from others?

I am really not sure, it was just a thought.

Best of lucks. JBL
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
>Reported vote: jamccartney// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Pro (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Pro made more convincing arguments, and they were also his. Con quoted other sites more than actually giving her own statements, though she still effectively got her point across. Conduct points are tied, as both performed well. S&P are tied. Sources are tied because, even though Con had more, Pro used .org sites rather than .com.

[*Reason for removal*] The voter fails to analyze any specific points made by either side in the debate, merely restating the decision without explaining it.
Posted by flyingpurplepeopleeater 2 years ago
probly should have called this "abolishing of income tax" sorry but whatever
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Kirigaya-Kazuto 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Sources is left tied due to both sides using very reliable and unbiased websites, even though Con used many more sources. Arguments on the other hand go to Con. In R2 Con clearly showed how a flat taxation system would 1.) Affect the 99% of the population (I.e. the poor) in a negative way 2.) Affect the 1% of the population (I.e. the rich) in a positive way 3.) Affect the overall effectiveness of the gov't. Whereas Pro's arguments while were good, were not as effective or well structured as Con's. As far as rebuttals go I would give it a tie, both sides clearly and concisely rebutted their opponents arguments. So overall Sources - Tie. Arguments - Con. Rebuttals - Tie.