Can the President Eliminate Capital Gains Taxes On His Own?

So here’s my scenario:

November 2012: Romney Wins (amid much wailing and gnashing of SDMB teeth)

January 20 2013, inauguration speech: “…and I intend to ask Congress to immediately eliminate the capital gains tax. Let’s put the capital back into the economy!”

April 2013: Congress stalled. The votes to pass the capital gains tax killer are just not there.

May 2013, Romney speech: “I am ordering the IRS to immediately stop collecting capital gains taxes, cease any enforcement actions against anyone who doesn’t pay, and ordering all US Attorneys to drop any tax evasion cases where the tax at issue is capital gains. It’s the right thing to do.”

Is this an appropriate use of presidential power?

I dunno. Is there a law that says the IRS has to collect taxes?

Its obviously an unworkable idea in any case, since it would put taxpayers in a position of having to break the law, which might end up being enforced later. So its a poor analogy for the Dream Act thingy, which is obviously what you really want to debate.

No. He can only do such things wrt immigration law. That’s what you’re getting at, right?

I don’t think so. The President is supposed to enforce the laws (including tax laws) that got passed by Congress, including those that may have been passed by majority to over-ride his veto.

If he refuses to do his job, Congress can use the power of the purse, or impeachment, to try to force his hand. (As well as popular opinion/political pressure via the press.)

I think SCOTUS would say that this is a political question, and stay out of the fight.

That depends on what you mean by “appropriate”. Does appropriate mean a constitutionally lawful presidential power? Or does appropriate mean an action which benefits the general welfare of the nation?

Is the IRS part of the executive branch?

Yes, it is.

I would say the President might be able to choose not to enforce prosecution against corporate tax evaders, sure.

It would rapidly lead to government breakdown due to lack of income, I expect, and get him impeached if/when people finally realize zero taxation is an infeasible policy, but he might be able to.

Yes, as part of the Department of the Treasury.


Wait, you guys aren’t suggesting that Bricker would post an OP with a dishonest premise, are you?

What does the Supreme Court say? I ask because debates along these lines tend to feature a lot of peole saying what they think the law ought to be, and a smaller group rejecting any opinion that doesn’t fully reflect the opinion of the Court as expressed in Whocares v. Nobodyknows in 1912.

You could do a poll in IMHO about that!

In one case you’re preventing the law-demanded deportation of…

…and in the other you’re collecting taxes on some money made through investment.

There’s a huge political difference between (1) the deportation of Angela, who is 26 and a nursing student who has lived in southern California since she was 2 years old and (2) the IRS collecting capital gains taxes from Angela, who sold some stocks to help pay for nursing school.

Even if the letter of the law is the same in both cases, the human element is different enough that expecting those two cases to be treated the same is unreasonable.

Well, then, it certainly seems like he could try.

The immigration law in question explicitly gives the executive (in the body of the Attorney General) the discretion to choose which cases to prosecute. It is written in the law. No executive order was given and none is required. In spite of the cries, the fact is that the President and the Executive Branch are carrying out the letter of the law.

Is there a similar discretionary clause in the internal revenue code that creates a tax on capital gains? If there is, then the President could direct the IRS not to pursue cases regarding delinquent capital gains taxes. If there is not, then the President cannot make such a direction.

Come on, Bricker, you’re better than that.

Besides, it wouldn’t work. The sort of people who would benefit most from capital gains amnesty are patriots, sir, patriots! They would march en masse down to the Treasury with their checkbooks and demand to pay their fair share!

Me? Tequila and bongwater, why do you ask?

That’s a common perception. Of course there are things which are widely held as true that are not. So who is to say?

The President (of any party) has a DUTY to refuse to enforce any law that he honestly feels is unconstitutional.

Mmmm, no. Close call, but still no. He swears to uphold the Constitution, so that’s a point. But I think he has a further duty not to be a shit-disturber. He should, save for desperate and trying circumstances, see the matter referred to the Supremes, for their impartial and non-partisan judgment.

You have a cite for that claim, is it just your opinion?

Article 2, Section 1 of the US Constitution works for me. I don’t see how doing anything less jibes with the oath to “to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”