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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Non-partisan tax reform

Les Samuels has an op ed in the Los Angeles Times suggesting six principles to help guide tax reform - "Sensible Taxation" (1/3/12). Mr. Samuels was Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy under President Clinton.

He describes his six general suggestions as non-partisan. I think that is great and have suggested it myself for tax reform, including in the formation of tax reform commissions (July 2008 article).  While taxes are shaped by politics, the basic design should be shaped by principles of good tax policy. Use of the principles helps bring more objectivity into the discussion and reform work.

I encourage you to read the op ed - it is brief and the six points are helpful.  He reminds readers of a few key points in the six principles:
  • Why we have taxes (it is to raise revenue for government operations - with so many special rules in the law, we might forget).
  • Tax expenditures, which he refers to as subsidies (and if more people did, perhaps it would be easier to remove more on them), should be reduced to broaden the tax base. He states: "Our tax code delivers these subsidies in an upside-down manner: a 35% rate taxpayer gets a $35 savings for $100 of home mortgage interest, while a much lower 15% rate taxpayer gets only a 15% benefit. Tax reform that scales back these special tax deals will subject more income to taxation, thereby broadening the tax base. But it won't be painless. Almost all taxpayers claim these tax benefits, but some benefit far more than others."
  • All types of taxes should be considered in reform. 
What do you think?

3 comments:

David @ Engage America said...

The recommendations for approaching tax reform in the "Sensible Taxation" article make complete sense and are points I have heard many others make. However, one thing the article doesn't do (not that it was intended to) is enumerate specific ways to reform the tax code.

If you could make one suggestion to the Federal tax reform committee what would be it?

business liquidation said...

I believe economic development, popular support, and political consensus must all be built on the same foundation: fundamental fairness.

Kenneth Gibbons LLC said...

Very difficult to have massive tax reform. The code and our economy is very complex which makes this difficult.