Understanding our tax system

Published 11:26 am Thursday, February 2, 2017

To the Editor:

As a retired Certified Public Accountant, I am always amazed when I talk to people or read opinions about a governmental tax system. Most people do not seem to have any grasp as to the purpose of a governmental tax system.

Governmental tax systems are put in place to gather funds to operate the government on a daily basis. Taxes should only be used by a government to perform the missions that has been placed upon the government.

What are the missions of a government? Economist Adam Smith in his book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” described the missions of government very well.

The first and most important mission of government is national defense. That is defense of the country, state, county or township. The people’s property must be defended as part of their defense.

Government’s second mission is the administration of justice (law and order). The government must establish courts and law enforcement offices. There must be a body to settle disputes and try those who have broken the laws of the land. And of course there must be law enforcement. Law enforcement officer’s enforcer the laws that protect the people of a country.

Finally government’s third mission is to provide certain good and services that individuals cannot provide or afford alone. Among those goods are highways, bridges, airports and other transportation infrastructure.

As you read Mr. Smith’s definitions of the responsibilities for government nowhere can you find a requirement for wealth redistribution (social programs).

When our Founding Fathers founded this great nation they were guided by Adam Smith’s vision of government. For a nation based on the ownership of property with a capitalist based economy Adam Smith’s vision fit very well with their vision for this nation.

In communist and socialist economies wealth redistribution (entitlements) may be part of the scheme of things but in a capitalist country based on Judeo-Christian values wealth distribution is not or should not be part of the tax system.

In the United States of America our tax systems should never be used to redistribute monies from one individual to another. Our tax system should only collect taxes to operate our government.

The Holy Bible describes our individual responsibilities: 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 – “To aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

Ray Shamlin

Rocky Mount