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Monday, May 14, 2007

Why this blog?

I am a tax professor at San Jose State University. I am also a part-time fellow in the New America Foundation's California Program where I focus on tax reforms that follow the principles of good tax policy, address existing flaws, and best reflect our 21st-century society and economy .

I have been studying, researching, writing and presenting on the topic of tax reform for several years (see for some of my articles and presentations on this topic). I am starting this blog as another way to discuss tax reform, share ideas and comment on ideas that come up in Congress or the California legislature, the press, policy groups and elsewhere. I will supplement the blog discussions with links to legislative proposals, relevant reports of government and public policy organizations, as well as my writings that I'll post to a website - 21st Century Taxation (link below).

The federal and California tax systems face many issues today, several of which have been lingering unresolved for many years. As our economy changes from an industrial one to an information/knowledge one, more tax rules and policies of the past either do not work well or sometimes hinder continued progress. Challenges tax systems face today include (a) complexity, (b) perceived unfairness by many taxpayers, (c) lack of neutrality (many tax rules affect behavior of individuals and businesses rather than primarily serving to raise revenue for government operations), (d) new types of transactions that don't neatly fit within old rules created without such transactions in mind, (e) not all taxes owed are collected creating a "tax gap" that at the federal level is over $300 billion annually, and (f) double taxation of corporate income. In addition, some of the discussions today on health care reforms, addressing environmental problems and funding higher education, to name a few, involve tax implications and sometimes existing tax costs ("tax expenditures") that are not always brought to the table when they likely should be in order to see a broader range of solutions.

I'm looking forward to writing this blog and hopefully increasing the discussion that takes place on this important topic that is crucial to success of the California economy and a healthy and productive society. The blog will allow for immediate discussion rather than the typical academic route which is to research, write and publish an article, - and that is not something with a quick turnaround! (But, don't get me wrong, journal publications are important to academics, and hopefully the public.)

Occasional background and idea papers will accompany this blog. The first one provides a sense of some of the weaknesses that exist in California's tax system. Here is the link to the 21st Century Taxation website I created to accompany the blog. It includes a link to Report #1 on some of the weaknesses that exist in the California tax system.

Thanks for reading.

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