Area representatives weigh in on proposed federal consumption tax

Friday, June 26, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Only one of the Columbia area's representatives in the U.S. Congress has taken a firm position on the proposed consumption tax known as the Fair Tax Act of 2009.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill "understands the policy" and has spoken highly of the act's simplicity, her press secretary Maria Speiser said. However, she still has reservations about the proposal, Speiser said.

McCaskill “is opposed to the Fair Tax because it will disproportionately hurt middle class and lower-income people,” Speiser said.

Sales taxes do not change in relation to income. This results in individuals and families whose incomes are in the lowest brackets spending a greater percentage of their incomes on basic necessities, such as food and housing, than those with higher incomes.

The Fair Tax Act of 2009 would repeal all income and estate taxes as well as the Internal Revenue Service, and create a flat-rate consumption tax of 23 percent on the gross cost of almost all goods and services, according to the legislation. Two Georgia Republicans, Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Rep. John Linder, are the bill's sponsors.

Under the act, a refund equal to 1/12 the annual poverty level times the tax rate — 23 percent — would be issued by the government each month. The rebate has been supported as a measure to offset the impact on the low-income families, but it would be given to all 'qualified families,' which the act defines as one or more family members sharing a common residence, regardless of income.

The tax reform measure was the focus of a rally held on June 13 at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

Before the rally, Keith Beardslee, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, said the Ninth District representative was reviewing the Fair Tax Act.

“It’s a very complex issue,” Beardslee said, adding that Luetkemeyer "is not in a position to take a position because he is still studying it.”

Kit Bond, Missouri’s senior Republican senator, believes tax code reform is necessary. In a statement provided by his press secretary, Charles Chamberlayne, Bond pointed to several problems with the current code.

“It’s long past time to bring some common sense to our tax code, which is too complex, too confusing and too costly,” the statement said. “It takes the average taxpayer 30 hours to fill out a typical tax return. That’s just ridiculous."

"Congress needs to get serious about simplifying the tax code and helping American families keep more of their paychecks, and the Fair Tax should be part of that debate."

Both Luetkemeyer and McCaskill’s offices have reported voter interest in taxes.

“Taxes are the top issue that folks are concerned about,” Beardslee said. “People are angry at the out-of-control taxes and spending.”

Speiser said nearly 2,000 pieces of correspondence regarding consumption taxes have been sent to Claire McCaskill’s Washington, D.C., office. “The complexity of the tax code is one of the things that comes up more than others,” she said.

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mark mitchum June 26, 2009 | 8:49 p.m.

The people understand the FairTax. At election time, the only question that needs to be asked is if a candidate is or is not FairTax. Only an enthusiastic "yes" is required for my vote.

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