First, nearly 60 million WORKING people pay NO income taxes at all. None. They benefit just as much as the 60 million who do pay, but they get a free ride because they do not earn as much.
But just because they do not earn as much should not mean they pay NOTHING. If they have income, why should they not pay at least a token amount? And there are three very sound reasons why they should...
1) They would feel as though they are contributing to America, even if only in a token amount. This is good and healthy for a person's self-esteem. Remember the parable of the wealthy man who gave 10% of what he earned, and the poor woman who only gave two pieces? Jesus blessed the woman because, even though she was poor and could ill afford it, she gave all she could. Dignity and self-esteem is important.
2) By becoming taxpayers, those 60 million people will be vested in how Congress spends our money. As long as a person is not required to pay anything, they suddenly become eager to increase spending and entitlements - after all, it doesn't cost them a dime. If we want to control spending, we need to get more Americans interested in controlling it.
3) If every working person under 18 and not in college, with any income whatsoever were required to pay a mere $5 per week, that would come to a whopping $15 billion dollars a year going into the Treasury that could be used to pay down our debt. It is their debt, too. They need to pay SOMETHING. There is not a working person in America who can honestly say they cannot afford a mere $250 per year for all the benefits they get from living in this great country. Every worker could contribute that much simply by getting a second, part-time job for a few days each year. Heck, I make more than that just turning in cans and bottles to the recycling center!
Yes, there should be an Alternative Minimum Tax on the wealthy PROVIDED we stick with the current progressive tax code. But there should be an even more important AMT for EVERYONE. Every working American has an obligation to pay a share. Being poor is no excuse for being a deadbeat.