Taxing Ourselves: A Citizen's Guide to the Great Debate over Tax Reform

Taxing Ourselves: A Citizen's Guide to the Great Debate over Tax Reform

by Joel Slemrod
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In Taxing Ourselves, Joel Slemrod and Jon Bakija offer a guide to the tax reform debate in clear, nontechnical language without misleading the reader with oversimplifications. The second edition takes account of tax developments through 1998, examines recent research on the economic impact of taxation, and includes a new appendix containing the key statistics…  See more details below

Overview

In Taxing Ourselves, Joel Slemrod and Jon Bakija offer a guide to the tax reform debate in clear, nontechnical language without misleading the reader with oversimplifications. The second edition takes account of tax developments through 1998, examines recent research on the economic impact of taxation, and includes a new appendix containing the key statistics on the U.S. tax system throughout its history.

The book gives a historical perspective on taxation in the United States along with a concise description of our current federal income tax system. It reviews basic criteria by which tax policy should be judged and examines how the tax burden is distributed. The book then covers the key elements of various tax reform proposals, including a single rate, a clean base, and a consumption base. The book closes with a voter's guide to tax reform for the concerned citizen to keep handy, to help separate fact from fiction and reality from campaign promises.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Economists Slemrod (Univ. of Michigan) and Bakija (Williams Coll.) provide a sometimes dense but mostly easy-to-read road map of the US tax system. The authors discuss the progressivity of the graduated income tax in great detail, explaining how it yields more revenue than corporate taxes, penalizes savings (by taxing interest), and can be considered superior to the flat tax (which is simpler but not progressive) but inferior to the value-added tax (or VAT, widely used in Europe) because of its complexity and many loopholes. Readers, especially conservative ones, will be surprised to hear that there is no direct link between tax rates and prosperity. Rates in the US haven't changed much over the past 50 years, even during periods of stellar growth, whereas in Europe (where taxes are higher) growth has often proceeded ahead of the US. Slemrod and Bakija also outline factors most laymen don't consider when discussing (or complaining about) the topic. Any discussion of tax reform, for example, has to take into consideration what it costs to comply with the rules as well as how much we spend enforcing them. Taxpayers blow around $100 billion a year figuring their taxes; the IRS has a budget of $8 billion. Given these figures, policymakers and legislators (and, by extension, the voters) must be held to blame for the nation's tax woes, not the IRS. The authors' prescriptions for reform are myriad and leave no clear avenues. The efficiency of the flat tax might (but probably won't) compensate for its regressive nature. The VAT in theory is cheaper to enforce than the income tax, but in Europe it costs the same or more. A national sales tax appears very easy, but itwouldbreak the economy. It's possible to catch oneself reading but not comprehending the extended proofs that accompany these proposals. Given the usual opacity of the subject, however, Slemrod and Bakija are as clear as glass. A fair-minded exposition of a politically loaded subject.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262193757
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
10/01/1996
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.43(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.09(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Joel Slemrod is Paul W. McCracken Collegiate Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy and Director of the Office of Tax Policy Research at the University of Michigan.

Jon Bakija is Associate Professor of Economics at Williams College and Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School, 2007-2008.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >