This is America's 100th year for individual income tax, a system as out of touch with our era as digital music is with the hand-cranked Victrola music players of 1912. It is also the 26th year of the Reagan-era reform for both personal and corporate tax, a grand design now buried under special-interest favors.
With U.S. elections in November, and the George W. Bush tax cuts due to expire at the end of 2012, it's time for a debate that goes beyond ginning up anger over taxes and the superficial issue of tax rates.
It's time to consider whether to get rid of income taxes, personal and corporate. What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current system? Should we tax individual and corporate income -- or something else?
We need to think about it. Whatever systems we consider, we should weigh up what it takes to raise the necessary revenue along with such other attributes as minimal compliance cost, leakage and economic distortion.
Times change. Tax systems must change with them or else their lubricating effect turns to sand, wearing down the gears of commerce.