The opportunity to vote on such a bill was part of a deal made between U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and 20 Republicans who had initially refused to give him their vote for speaker of the House in January 2022. But even if said bill were passed in the House, it would not be expected to pass the Senate, which is dominated by Democrats, or be signed by U.S. President Joe Biden, also a Democrat.
Republicans legislators, who assumed a small majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections, are expected to vote in 2023 on a piece of legislation that would, if passed by both legislative branches and signed into law by the president, abolish the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But the bill has little chance of passing.
The bill, called the Fair Tax Act, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., on Jan. 10, 2023, would abolish the agency and, Carter said in a news release on the legislation, replace it with a "national consumption tax known as the Fair Tax."
"Instead of adding 87,000 new agents to weaponize the IRS against small business owners and middle America, this bill will eliminate the need for the department entirely by simplifying the tax code with provisions that work for the American people and encourage growth and innovation," Carter said in a statement about the bill. "Armed, unelected bureaucrats should not have more power over your paycheck than you do."
A vote on the bill was part of a deal made between newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and 20 Republicans who had refused to give him their vote for a protracted period, resulting in days of chaos in the House that was unprecedented in recent U.S. history.
Although the IRS is probably not the most popular government agency, not everyone thinks eliminating it in favor of a "consumption tax" would be the boon to taxpayers that Carter claims. In a Jan. 11 post on Just Taxes, a blog run by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which describes itself as a nonpartisan think tank, Steve Wamhoff, the organization's federal policy director, described the proposal as neither original or beneficial.
"The bill would impose a 30 percent federal sales tax on everything we buy – groceries, cars, homes, health care, school tuition – and lead to a giant tax shift from the well-off to everyone else," Wamhoff wrote.
He traced the idea's origins to a proposal put forward by the Church of Scientology, in a dispute over whether the organization could be considered a church, and thus tax exempt.
"The Church of Scientology's only goal in the matter was to eliminate the agency causing it trouble, and lost interest once the IRS threw in the towel and allowed it to present itself as a church," Wamhoff wrote. "But by then several politicians had bought into the idea and introduced it as legislation, which has been reintroduced in each Congress since as the Fair Tax."