Taxing Ourselves: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes / Edition 4

Taxing Ourselves: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes / Edition 4

by Joel Slemrod, Jon Bakija
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0262693631

ISBN-13: 9780262693639

Pub. Date: 04/30/2008

Publisher: MIT Press

As Albert Einstein may or may not have said, "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." Indeed, to follow the debate over tax reform, the interested citizen is forced to choose between misleading sound bites and academic treatises. Taxing Ourselves bridges the gap between the two by discussing the key issues clearly and without a

Overview

As Albert Einstein may or may not have said, "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." Indeed, to follow the debate over tax reform, the interested citizen is forced to choose between misleading sound bites and academic treatises. Taxing Ourselves bridges the gap between the two by discussing the key issues clearly and without a political agenda: Should the federal income tax be replaced with a flat tax or sales tax? Should it be left in place and reformed? Can tax cuts stimulate the economy, or will higher deficits undermine any economic benefit? Authors and tax policy experts Joel Slemrod and Jon
Bakija lay out in accessible language what is known and not known about how taxes affect the economy, offer guidelines for evaluating tax systems, and provide enough information to assess both the current income tax system and the leading proposals to reform or replace it (including the flat tax and the consumption tax).

The fourth edition of this popular guide has been extensively revised to incorporate the latest information, covering such recent developments as the Bush administration's tax cuts (which expire in 2011) and the alternatives proposed by the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. Slemrod and Bakija provide us with the knowledge and the tools -- including an invaluable voter's guide to the tax policy debate -- to make our own informed choices about how we should tax ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262693639
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
04/30/2008
Edition description:
fourth edition
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,027,005
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Introduction     1
Complaints about the Current Tax System     3
A Different Way to Tax     7
Objections to Radical Reform     9
Changes in the Context of the Current System     10
The Need for Objective Analysis     11
What's in This Citizen's Guide     11
An Overview of the U.S. Tax System     13
How Governments in the United States Get Their Money     13
International Comparisons     15
Historical Perspectives on the U.S. Tax System     16
Personal Income Taxation     28
Basic Features of the U.S. Corporate Income Tax     47
The Social Security Payroll Tax     52
Estate and Gift Taxes     53
Conclusion     55
Fairness     57
Vertical Equity and Tax Progressivity     59
Horizontal Equity: Equal Treatment of Equals     87
Transitional Equity     96
Conclusion     98
Taxes and Economic Prosperity     99
Taxes and the Business Cycle     100
Budget Deficits and Surpluses     103
How Much Should Government Do?     106
Tax Cuts to Force Spending Cuts versus Surplusesto Prepare for an Aging Population     108
How Taxes Affect Long-Run Economic Prosperity: A First Cut at the Evidence     112
How Taxes Affect Economic Prosperity: The Specifics     119
Conclusion     157
Simplicity and Enforceability     159
How Complicated Is Our Tax System?     159
What Makes a Tax System Complicated?     165
What Facilitates Enforcement?     185
Conclusion     188
Elements of Fundamental Reform     189
A Single Rate     189
A Consumption Base     194
A Clean Tax Base     216
Conclusion     230
What Are the Alternatives?     231
How the Consumption Tax Plans Work     232
At What Rate?     239
Simplicity and Enforceability of the Consumption Tax Plans     244
Distributional Effects of the Consumption Tax Alternatives     253
Economic Effects of Consumption Tax Plans     262
Conclusion     268
Starting from Here     269
Integration: Eliminating the Double Taxation of Corporate Income     270
Corporate Welfare and Corporate Tax Shelters     273
Inflation Indexing     277
Capital Gains      279
Savings Incentives in the Income Tax     283
The Estate Tax     288
Simplifying the Income Tax     292
Technological Improvements and the Promise of a Return-Free System     294
The President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform     295
A Hybrid Approach: Combining a VAT with Income Taxation     299
Conclusion     303
A Voter's Guide to the Tax Policy Debate     305
Tax Cuts versus Tax Reform     305
Tax Cuts as a Trojan Horse     306
The Devil Is in the Details     306
The Tax System Can't Encourage Everything     307
Fairness Is a Slippery Concept but an Important One     307
Be Skeptical of Claims of Economic Nirvana     307
The Tax System Can Be Improved     308
2010: A Double Witching Hour     309
Notes     311
References     343
Index     365

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