Could a Flat Tax Plan Boost Perry Past Romney?

With proposal, GOP candidate will try to draw contrasts with Romney.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, hoping to turn around his struggling presidential campaign, told Republicans on Wednesday that he will soon be announcing a flat tax as a key part of his platform.

"I want to make the tax code so simple that even [Secretary of Treasury] Timothy Geithner can file his taxes on time," Perry joked as he told the Western Republican Leadership Conference of his plans. (Geithner blamed the program Turbo Tax when personal income tax discrepancies were revealed in 2009.) Perry has yet to reveal any further details about his plan, buy by definition it would eliminate tax brackets and give everyone the same tax rate.

[See why Perry's Texas success isn't translating.]

Perry's proposal wouldn't be the first--businessman Herman Cain's "9-9-9" plan includes flat 9 percent rates for personal income taxes, as well as corporate and sales taxes. And magazine publisher Steve Forbes based his 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns on a proposed 17 percent sales tax, with an exemption for low-income families.

A flat tax plays well with Republican voters, and is a bold proposal from Perry to define himself as the conservative alternative to Romney. Romney's 59-point economic plan calls for tax reform and a "flatter, fairer" tax system, but stops short of calling for a flat tax.

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