These surviving wartime powers have also been an important factor in the permanent expansion of the size and scope of the political state. One “temporary” measure enacted during World War II was the withholding provision of the federal income tax. That device has had the insidious effect of disguising the true tax burden on most Americans by “painlessly” extracting the money from their payroll checks before they get an opportunity to see (and use) those funds. For such taxpayers the category of gross salary or wages is little more than a meaningless bookkeeping entry on their payroll check stubs. One suspects that citizens would be decidedly less willing to carry their current bloated tax burden if they had to write annual or quarterly checks to the IRS. Indeed, it is likely that there would have been a massive tax revolt long before the federal government began consuming more than a quarter of the nation’s gross domestic product. It seems more than a coincidence that the two groups that are not subject to the anesthetic of withholding taxes (sole proprietors and independent contractors) have most militantly opposed high taxes. A wartime innovation has thus become an important permanent building block of the leviathan state by continuing to conceal the real tax burden from most Americans.”
The linked essay, from which the partial-paragraph is copied, is penned by Ted Galen Carpenter in The Freeman.