Several GOP Senate Candidates Propose Eliminating Income Taxes

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

National Journal
Andrea Drusch
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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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