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Tax Reform Proposals Aired

June 10, 1996

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Any overhaul of the U.S. tax code must be done slowly and requires the support of most American taxpayers to ensure the system’s stability, panelists at a tax reform summit said Monday.

Almost all the panelists had ideas for how it could be done: the well-known flat tax, popularized by former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes; a national sales tax; and the unlimited savings allowance tax, also known as the USA Tax, which taxes income that is spent and exempts income that is saved and invested.

``I would like to see any of these three proposals over the current system,″ said Dr. Barry Rogstad, the panelist endorsing the USA Tax.

Hosted by Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., the daylong conference was open to the public. The conference drew about 250 people, most of whom appeared to be business professionals. Bond said he hoped the material would reach a wider audience via a tape-delayed broadcast Monday night on Kansas City’s public television station.

The goal, said Bond, was to inform people about the competing ideas for tax reform. The subject comes up at many of his town hall forums, but it’s clear many people haven’t heard about anything but the flat tax, he said.

``I think it’s vitally important to make this opportunity available,″ said Bond. Tax simplification and reform is likely to be considered by Congress after the November election, he said.

In addition to panel discussion led by a moderator, the conference polled audience members for opinions by giving each person a hand-held device similar to a TV remote control.

Those who joined in bashing the tax code were Rogstad, president of the Washington-based American Business Conference; Victor Krohn, the national chairman of Citizens for an Alternative Tax System in Manassas, Va.; and Dr. Arthur Hall, a senior economist at The Tax Foundation in Washington.

Though Krohn endorses a national sales tax and Hall favors a flat tax, all three panelists agreed that existing tax law discourages savings and investment and makes it too difficult to start new businesses.

They criticized what Hall called multiple levels of taxation, citing the example of a person who pays income tax, then is taxed on the interest he earns when he invests or saves the remainder.

The only panelist who supported the tax code was Judy Keisling, vice president of information services for H&R Block Inc. Block supports incremental changes in the existing code.

``For years our current system has been the ideal of the industrialized world,″ Keisling said in an interview during a break. ``We agree that changes need to be made. But assuming we scrap the current code, I don’t think anyone’s naive enough to believe it will remain the same for the next 100 years.″

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