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The Decline and Fall? of the Income Tax
     

The Decline and Fall? of the Income Tax

by Michael J. Graetz
 
Cuts through the hype to tell you what tax reform proposals will really do to yourwallet. To cheering crowds, politicians announce plans to dismantle the "IRS as we know it" and replace it with flat taxes and consumption taxes. But if we burn our 1040 forms, will we really be better off? In this trenchant book a distinguished law professor who served in the Treasury

Overview

Cuts through the hype to tell you what tax reform proposals will really do to yourwallet. To cheering crowds, politicians announce plans to dismantle the "IRS as we know it" and replace it with flat taxes and consumption taxes. But if we burn our 1040 forms, will we really be better off? In this trenchant book a distinguished law professor who served in the Treasury in the Bush administration takes a no-holds-barred look at our leaders' compulsion to use the tax system for short-term political ends. With telling anecdotes of politicking past and present, Michael Graetz shows how Congress lost the public's trust on tax policy: taxing more and more of people's stagnant buying power during the high-inflation years of the '70s and '80s, requiring ever more complicated tax forms and filings, and continuing to promise reform while powerful corporations and the rich dodge paying their fair share all while failing to deliver the goods in a tough economy.
Taking on current proposals for tax reform, Graetz cuts through the rhetoric and crunches the numbers to reveal that ordinary taxpayers will foot a disproportionate share of the bill for flat and consumption taxes. Most of all, he demonstrates how PACS have become a legalized form of influence peddling that especially corrupts the political process where taxes are concerned. Breaking down the political deals and bureaucratic stupidities that have made the tax system so burdensome, he points the way to a saner, fairer system.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Angry taxpayers may be disappointed that Graetz (Law/Yale) does not jump on the anti-income-tax bandwagon, but they would do well to ponder his reservations about where taxation is headed.

Discussions of tax policy have always attracted ideologues and the self-interested. In recent years, however, this tendency has become so strong that no idea is so unproven, no proposal so blatantly pandering to special interests that one cannot find economists and politicians willing to promote it as the certain route to an economic and social utopia. Against this background, Graetz's common sense (and the absence of hyperbole in his text) is a breath of fresh air. He eschews identification of a single answer for all tax ills, opting instead for a series of reasonable steps that would push tax policy toward widely held goals. His basic proposal for federal taxation involves adopting a value-added tax to accompany a refurbished income tax, with the VAT applicable only to incomes of $75,000 a year and up. This would achieve many of the goals of a consumption tax (such as encouraging saving), without embracing a wholesale shift of the tax burden from upper- to middle-income taxpayers. Readers with tax expertise will find little that is unfamiliar in this volume, but the anecdotes illustrating the sometimes ludicrous world of taxation in the US are wonderful; the climactic story about the regional planning commissioner and his Christmas hams is worth the price of the book.

Not the sensationalistic diatribe you expect to see in April, and for that reason well worth reading.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393040616
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
04/28/1997
Edition description:
Older Edition
Pages:
323
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.23(d)

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