By Sen. Timothy Scott
A year ago last week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the President Barack Obama's individual mandate to purchase health insurance was a tax on the American people. This has proven to be one of the most significant parts of the current administration's efforts to grow government and attack individual freedoms.
Fast forward to today, and the scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service is more proof that our government has grown too large and too powerful. Over the last few years, our own tax collection agency has targeted tea party groups and conservative individuals based on their political beliefs. That's a chilling thought to every American who believes in the First Amendment.
Now, the IRS will be in charge of implementing the individual mandate -- a $45 billion tax on hardworking American families.
I have sought answers from the Obama administration since we first learned about this improper targeting and I will continue to do so until we have the whole story. As we see more and more evidence that the IRS scandal reaches all the way to Washington, it's absolutely necessary that we find out who is responsible and hold them accountable.
But that does not address the bigger problem of how our government -- specifically the IRS -- was even in a position to undertake such an abuse of power. I strongly believe that as we give more power to the government, we concede the power to exercise control over our own lives. And while we can and will demand accountability from those responsible for the IRS targeting conservative groups, we should also implement broader reforms that eliminate the environment in which this abuse can take place.
The best way to remove power from Washington bureaucrats inside the IRS is to overhaul our country's convoluted and confusing tax code. A simpler tax structure would greatly reduce the need for a bloated bureaucracy within the IRS. Nothing illustrates this point better than a quote from the IRS' Taxpayer Advocate Service, who wrote "the Code has grown so long that is has become challenging to even figure out how long it is."
It's no secret that our tax code is full of contradictions, redundancies and other complications that not only hold back our families and businesses, but also contribute to waste and bigger government in Washington. In fact, on average over the past decade there has been more than one change to the tax code a day. Instead of constantly revising and changing the code, let's work to ease the burden on families and also unleash the potential of American businesses through real tax reform.
In the meantime, we can also trim the excessive fat within agencies like the IRS. A simpler tax system means less need for bureaucrats who might abuse their power to target political opponents. And it means less taxpayer money wasted on efforts to interpret and implement laws and regulations that even IRS employees apparently struggle to understand.
The IRS scandal is an unacceptable abuse of government power. Regardless of political party or ideology, Americans should be free to express their beliefs without fear of harassment from their government. But it also presents an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the size and scope of one of our government's most powerful entities.
Let's embrace a simpler tax system that makes it easier for our country to thrive while making it harder for Washington to exercise control over our everyday lives.