What Ben Carson's Flat-Rate Tax Plan Would Really Look Like

Date: September 18, 2015

The Republican hopeful envisions an America with a single tax rate based on the Biblical tithe.

Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate saw a mixed bag of opinions on what America’s tax system should look like in 2016. Of the 11 leading candidates, Dr. Ben Carson’s proposal is among the most conservative. The retired neurosurgeon would implement a single flat-rate tax for all, with no exemptions for corporations or the poor—a plan he says would effectively eliminate the IRS.

In an interview with FOX Business Network, Carson said the flat-tax rate would “have to be somewhere between 10 and 15 percent—early on probably higher, [and] over the course of time lower.” His plan is inspired by the Biblical concept of tithing, or giving one-tenth of one’s income to the church.

“This kind of system can work only if we eliminate loopholes and make it truly fair,” Carson wrote in a Washington Times article. During Wednesday’s debate, he described progressive taxation—which leading opponent Donald Trump supports—as “socialism.”

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To break it down, Carson’s tax plan would:

  • Tax all Americans, rich or poor, at the same percentage rate
  • Introduce a Constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the federal budget each year
  • Raise about $1.1 trillion in revenue, according to Citizens for Tax Justice (for comparison, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government will raise $3.5 trillion and spend about $3.9 trillion next year)
  • Slash federal spending by 72 percent—the equivalent of cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, and the entire U.S. military, according to the Washington Post
  • Enable people to fill out their tax forms in less than 15 minutes
  • End the IRS as we know it

Carson and his senior economic adviser, George Mason University professor Thomas Rustici, have yet to determine whether the flat rate will take the form of an income tax or a consumption tax. But their end goal is to simplify the country’s existing 80,000-page tax code: “By muddying the waters, it actually does no one good, including poor people,” Rustici says.

*Note: This news coverage does not equate to an endorsement of any candidate by NFIB. 

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