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Would Tom Cruise Be a FairTax Supporter?

By: Gerald Prante

The FairTaxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. has recently garnered the support of many candidates for president, the most ardent candidate being former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. But did the FairTax movement orginate among the Scientology community? Columnist Bruce Bartlett takes a look at the issue in the latest issue of the New Republic.

The basic theological tenets of the Church of Scientology are well known: a fanatical hatred for psychiatry coupled with a creation myth that involves an evil alien ruler named Xenu and his sundry galactic allies. The basic tenets of its tax policy are somewhat less familiar. But Scientologists promulgated and, at one point, heavily promoted a proposal that would replace all federal income taxes with a national retail sales taxA sales tax is levied on retail sales of goods and services and, ideally, should apply to all final consumption with few exemptions. Many governments exempt goods like groceries; base broadening, such as including groceries, could keep rates lower. A sales tax should exempt business-to-business transactions which, when taxed, cause tax pyramiding. (NRST). And the theology and tax policy aren’t entirely unrelated: Xenu used phony tax inspections as a guise for destroying his enemies.

In a strange confluence, the Scientologist proposal happens to be nearly identical to one of the trendiest conservative tax proposals of the year, the so-called FairTax, which has been endorsed by John McCain and Fred Thompson, as well as second-tier presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, and Democrat Mike Gravel. Georgians John Lindner and Saxby Chambliss have introduced FairTax legislation in the House and Senate that would establish a 23 percent national sales tax.

Bartlett presents his case for this theory using his own experiences while working at the Cato Institute in the early 1990s. You can read the whole thing at The New Republic.

Follow up: When Bartlett first mentioned this idea of a link between scientology and the origins of the FairTax movement, it appeared in a Wall Street Journal column last week, albeit without the detail of this New Republic article. FairTax responded with a letter to the editor in the WSJ:

Be Fair to FairTax — Throw the Red Herrings Back in the Water
August 29, 2007; Page A13

It is apparently getting so difficult to defend the current income tax system that its guardians must use smear tactics to slow down its best replacement. Bruce Bartlett (”FairTax, Flawed Tax,” editorial page, Aug. 25) is the latest status quo defender to use fiction to slander the FairTax plan.

The FairTax was developed many years ago, totally independently of any other proposal, group or movement. It is a product of more than $20 million of advanced economic research, as well as detailed conversations with citizens as to their preferences defining the best possible national tax system. Many groups and individuals have agitated to replace the deeply flawed income tax system, including, apparently, the Church of Scientology. As a founder of Americans For Fair Taxation, I can state categorically, however, that Scientology played no role in the founding, research or crafting of the legislation giving expression to the FairTax.

Mr. Bartlett is equally wrong about many other aspects of the FairTax. We are disappointed but hardly surprised by such distortions about it coming from the very economist who once opined that the income tax system just needed a little “tweaking.”

Leo Linbeck
Chairman and CEO
Americans for Fair Taxation

Note: Bartlett’s article claims McCain has endorsed the FairTax, which according to is true; but McCain merely said that he would sign it if the bill came before his desk as president because he would basically sign anything that simplified the tax system.