Several GOP Senate Candidates Propose Eliminating Income Taxes

In crowded primary fields, Republicans are getting creative to stand out.

National Journal
Andrea Drusch
Add to Briefcase
Andrea Drusch
April 22, 2014, 11:31 a.m.

It can be hard to stand out in crowded primar­ies. But two Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate can­did­ates have de­term­ined that re­peal­ing a cen­tury-old Con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment is a good way to get no­ticed.

Ra­dio host Sam Clo­vis in Iowa and former Geor­gia Sec­ret­ary of State Kar­en Han­del are both pro­pos­ing a re­peal of the 16th Amend­ment — the one that has giv­en the gov­ern­ment the au­thor­ity to levy in­come tax since 1913.

“I think the 16th Amend­ment ought to be re­pealed,” Clo­vis said in a Des Moines de­bate last week. “If we re­peal the 16th Amend­ment we get rid of the IRS.”

Speak­ing at a Re­pub­lic­an wo­men’s meet­ing earli­er this month, Han­del said the move would make the tax sys­tem fairer and save Amer­ic­ans money.

“We need a sim­pler, fairer con­sump­tion tax sys­tem that stops IRS ab­use, ends tax giveaways to the polit­ic­ally power­ful, and lowers rates for in­di­vidu­als,” she said. “That means we should move to­ward re­peal­ing the 16th Amend­ment and do­ing away with the in­come tax.”

Des­pite their an­ti­tax act­iv­ism, neither can­did­ate is the fa­vor­ite in their up­com­ing primar­ies. Backed by Sarah Pal­in, Han­del re­ceived some late mo­mentum in the Geor­gia Sen­ate race, but hasn’t polled high­er than third place in re­cent polls. Clo­vis trails busi­ness­man Mark Jac­obs and state Sen. Joni Ernst in the Iowa Sen­ate primary.

Nix­ing the In­tern­al Rev­en­ue Ser­vice is po­ten­tially an is­sue with legs for a GOP base that’s still fum­ing over the agency’s tar­get­ing of con­ser­vat­ive groups last year. Re­tir­ing Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss of Geor­gia, whose seat Han­del is vy­ing for, sponsored the Sen­ate’s Fair Tax Act of 2013. In Novem­ber, Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Jim Briden­stine of Ok­lahoma filed a bill to re­peal the 16th Amend­ment, scrap­ping the fed­er­al tax code and ab­ol­ish­ing the IRS.

In Texas, a state which already has no state in­come tax, the Re­pub­lic­an Party plat­form states: “We re­com­mend re­peal of the Six­teenth Amend­ment of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, with the goal of ab­ol­ish­ing the I.R.S and re­pla­cing it with a na­tion­al sales tax col­lec­ted by the States.” In­come-tax op­pon­ents ad­voc­ate for a sub­sti­tute Fair Tax, which would es­tab­lish a na­tion­al re­tail sales tax of 23 per­cent on new goods and ser­vices. No money is taken from paychecks, it’s only as­sessed on money that is spent.

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