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“I think the 16th Amendment ought to be repealed,” Clovis said in a Des Moines debate last week.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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