Congress is in upheaval. The President is coloring outside the lines. Elected officials and taxpayers are locking horns over matters of environment, crime, civil rights, health and jobs. Is this any time for the Fair Tax issue to be addressed? Absolutely, says Fair Tax New Jersey Director Jim Milroy, if the discussion turns to creating a favorable economic climate.

Fair Tax NJ's Jim Milroy (far right) and John O'Rourke (far left), meeting with Cong. Tom MacArthur (center)
Fair Tax NJ's Jim Milroy (far right) and John O'Rourke (far left), meeting with Cong. Tom MacArthur (center)

Milroy, of Marmora, spoke with WOBM News prior to the statewide annual meeting, April 1 at the Twin Rivers Library in East Windsor. They will also be part of a national Fair Tax contingent that will rally in New York City on April 15, a block away from Trump Tower.

The Fair Tax concept rests on replacing federal income tax procedures with a national, progressive sales tax on new goods and services. It exists as legislation that, according to Milroy, has met with various degrees of support on both sides of the political aisle. That support fluctuates as members of Congress retire or are replaced, and as economic conditions change over time.

In essence, under Fair Tax, individuals are assessed based on what they buy, not what they earn, and the Internal Revenue Service disappears, along with the myriad forms, codes and arcane terminology.

The idea has been refined in order to cover the broadest possible wage spectrum. "A flat tax on income, or consumption, would be regressive, and hurt the poor the most," Milroy said. "We have a family consumpiton allowance, which is a prebate to every household, based on household size."

"At the beginning of a month, every household has a zero-percent tax rate," he continued. "Once their spending goes above [the federal] poverty level, then their tax rate slowly goes up, based on their spending. Nothing on their income. They can make as much money as they can, and they're not taxed on it."

While the proposed system relies on consumer spending power to fuel the national economic engine, it doesn't work against marginal wage earners with tight budgets.

"They could have a negative tax rate," Milroy explained. "If they don't spend up to poverty level, the consumption allowance would be money in their pocket."

Milroy concedes that obtaining, and keeping, momentum in the House and Senate for a radical idea presents a considerable, and ongoing, challenge.

Support constituted more than 80 members of both houses, combined, at the end of the last Congress. "With retirements, some people losing elections, we always fall back a little bit, and slowly work our way back up," Milroy observed.

Among the New Jersey delegation, former North Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett was the first, and so far is the only, one to sign on as a Fair Tax legislation sponsor. Milroy adds that President Trump and close advisors are also aware of the concept, and the movement.

Shore Representative Tom MacArthur (R-3) has conducted several meetings with members of the group. He hasn't gravitated to their cause, but, as he has said repeatedly on WOBM's "Ask The Congressman," he rejects no idea or legislation out of hand, especially if it promises benefits for constituents.

What's needed most right now, Milroy said, is awareness and support among everyday citizens. Those who grasp it, favor it, he observed. "We're trying to get enough support from people who will call their Congressman, and their Senators, and say, 'Why aren't you co-sponsoring this? What is it about the current system that you like so much?'"

The Fair Tax New Jersey web page contains a thorough, detailed explanation of the structure and the anticipated benefits, including a point-for-point comparison against the current stucture and flat taxation, and reasoned discourses of its ability to curb tax evasion, aid senior citizens, and support small businesses.

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