Focus on Tax Policy

Focus on Tax Policy

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On March 1, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on lessons from past tax reforms. Five former senior Treasury Department officials testified.

In a March 1 commentary, journalist David Cay Johnston discussed billionaire Warren Buffett’s recent efforts to secure special tax benefits for himself.

On February 28, Tax Analysts published a book of essays on the value-added tax. The book is free to download and free printed copies are also available. I contributed a chapter on the conservative case for a VAT.

Also on February 28, the European Central Bank published a working paper that examined the relative effectiveness of a one-shot rebate versus a change in withholding that raised take home pay. It found that the rebate caused significantly more spending and thus was more stimulative.

And on February 28, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a report on factors to be considered in reforming corporate taxes.

On February 28, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper on effective corporate tax rates in 82 different countries. It finds that U.S.-based multinationals are among the highest taxed.

On February 25, Bloomberg reported that the Treasury is looking to develop a consistent tax policy toward businesses, regardless of whether they are organized as corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships.

On February 11, University of California, Irvine, law professor Sarah Lawsky posted an article forthcoming in the Minnesota Law Review questioning the assumption of declining marginal utility of income – the idea that each additional dollar earned is worth less than the previous dollar – which underlies much tax policy, including progressive tax rates.

A January paper from the Banca D’Italia examined the extent to which tax factors contributed to the economic crisis.

In December, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis published three studies of the value-added tax by economist Sijbren Cnossen.

I last posted items on this topic on February 16.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.