A Value-Added Tax (VAT) is currently used by 160 out of 193 countries, including every developed nation except the US, because it is a more efficient way of generating revenue with no loopholes. Big companies and rich people are excellent at moving assets around to avoid taxes – Amazon, Google, and other companies funnel hundreds of billions in earnings overseas. In fact, Amazon paid zero in taxes last year. A VAT makes it impossible for them to benefit from the American people, automation, and infrastructure without paying their fair share.
By implementing a VAT, the American people will get a tiny sliver from the transactions of the big winners from the 21st century economy, the trillion dollar tech companies.
These revenues will help finance the Freedom Dividend and provide a floor for millions of Americans to build on, incentivizing businesses to control costs, encouraging savings, and simplifying administration. While transactions through the supply chain are taxed, only a fraction of that tax is passed on to consumers. Coupled with the Freedom Dividend, it will be quite progressive.
Why are VATs so popular in the rest of the world, especially among industrialized nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)? They’re difficult to dodge and easy to implement. By taking a slice at each point that value switches hands in the supply chain, big corporations will pay into the system to bring their products to market. If you want to do business in America, you have to pay into America. That’s it. This system doesn’t privilege foreign goods because a VAT is equally applied to imported goods.
This is how we ensure big tech companies pay their fair share and Americans share in the gains of the 21st century economy. Other industrialized countries have cracked the code after trying numerous schemes, from a wealth tax to a VAT. And while I agree with a wealth tax in spirit, there is a reason why it has been repealed by almost all European countries who have attempted them. We should not be looking to other countries’ mistakes. Instead, we should look at the tax system in 160 countries like Germany and France that set up future generations for success, which is a value-added tax.
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Problems to be Solved
- Corporations move money around to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
- The burden of paying for social services falls disproportionately on those who earn the least.
- The Freedom Dividend should be funded by those who benefit most from the structure and work of society.
Taxing income is an increasingly ineffective and inefficient way to generate revenue over time. Take a company like Amazon—it can do tens of billions in business and pay no income tax in a given period while storing its income overseas. A Value-Added Tax is a much more efficient way to capture the true value of the American infrastructure and will be increasingly necessary over time as more and more work is done by software, robots and artificial intelligence. With a VAT of half the European level, we can pay for Universal Basic Income for all American adults of $1,000 per month.
- Generate a revenue stream that can’t be avoided by corporations who are trying to circumvent our taxation system
- Generate revenue that will be consistent with increasing automation
As President, I will...
- Implement a Value-Added Tax at 10%, half the European level. Over time, the VAT will become more and more important to capture the value generated by automation in a way that income taxes would not.
- This VAT would vary based on the good to which it’s applied, with staples having a lower rate or being excluded, and luxury goods having a higher rate.
- Use the VAT revenue to pay for the Freedom Dividend of $1,000/month per adult, Universal Basic Income.