TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

NY Times: A Tax to Pay for War

New York Times op-ed:  A Tax to Pay for War, by Russell Rumbaugh (Stimson Center):

Nowthat Congress has discarded the idea that taxes can never be raised, we must change how we pay for the wars we ask our military to fight. We should institute a war tax.

With leading officials calling for action in Syria, and the American military providing support for France’s intervention in Mali, the need for such a tax is urgent. And President Obama’s call for tax reform as the next round of budget negotiations begins offers a perfect opportunity to enact it....

War traditionally has motivated major changes in tax policy. The Civil War brought the first income tax. World War I made the federal income tax permanent. World War II brought tax withholding. In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, the United States ran a budget surplus because of a tax surcharge Congress forced President Lyndon B. Johnson to accept. Today’s budget negotiations offer a similar opportunity to make a surcharge permanent.

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Defense is the primary purpose of government and shouldn't be held hostage to raising taxes before cutting waste. Who's going to tell a soldier that he won't be provided with body armor but that he can have a free cell phone instead?

The U.S. government spent about $2.2 billion last year to provide phones to low-income Americans, but...a large number of those who received the phones haven't proved they are eligible to receive them. ... The FCC said new verification procedures saved nearly $214 million last year, and projected total savings over the next three years would reach $2 billion.

Posted by: Woody | Feb 12, 2013 6:44:02 AM

We have a War on poverty tax, it's going really well. So is the War on Drugs.

Posted by: Sandy P. | Feb 12, 2013 12:36:31 PM