It’s ok if the name “Andrew Yang” doesn’t ring a bell. His biggest accomplishment so far was creating a program called Venture for America that trains entrepreneurs to work at startups in developing cities across the country. Now he’s running for President, and polling at a rockin’ 2% among Democrats. But he’s scored enough contributions from online donors to make it to the stage at the next Democratic presidential debate, which means there’s a chance he could still break through to the front rank of contenders.
How is Yang different from the other 59 Democrats running for President? His unique selling proposition is his support for a universal basic income — which he calls a “freedom dividend.” His plan gives every American over age 18 a $1,000 check every month. Paying for it would be easy-peasy: he’d implement a 10% value-added tax, eliminate the Social Security wage base, throw in a financial transactions tax (look out, day traders), and tax long-term capital gains at ordinary income rates. He’d also eliminate the current maze of welfare programs like food stamps and housing subsidies.
The universal basic income is an exciting intellectual concept. Politicians as diverse as Bernie Sanders and Richard Nixon have supported it. Having said that, do we need to tell you what chance it stands of passing Congress? Reader, we do not.
But Yang has another proposal that stands a slightly better chance of becoming actual law: his promise to make Tax Day, April 15, a day of joy and celebration. Can you even imagine all the fun? He argues that Revenue Day should be a federal holiday. Not only that, but there should be celebrations. Everyone should be allowed to direct 1% of their taxes to a special project, department, or activity. On Revenue Day, we would highlight those projects to see what we accomplished, and roll out next year’s projects to start getting excited for them.
Of course, if we’re going to make Revenue Day a holiday, we should do it right. There should be cake. (As Julia Child once said, “a party without cake is just a meeting.”) There should be caroling. (“Oh little tax of dividends, how high we see thee fly!”) Best Buy should throw open the doors at 5AM so you can line up and blow your refund on a new TV.
If Yang really wants to give taxpayers a reason to celebrate, he should make Tax Freedom Day a holiday. That’s the day of the year when we stop working just to pay taxes and start working for ourselves. For 2019, it fell on April 16, meaning the average citizen worked the first 105 days of the year just to pay federal, state, and local taxes. Kicking taxpayers in the head with that little info-nugget would be a gangster move.
Other countries have created traditions to make paying tax fun. In Finland, the government makes tax returns public at 8:00AM on November 1 — a day the New York Times dubbed “National Jealousy Day” — and newspapers send half their staff out to cover who made what. In North Korea, tax collectors snatch your last potato and smack you with a ceremonial quan-ti truncheon. (One of those is actually true.)
Call us crazy, but we think the best way to celebrate April 15 is to pay less tax. The best part is, you don’t have to wait until the next election to do it. Call us for a plan, and make that day a celebration!