Focus on Tax Policy

Focus on Tax Policy

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In a September 29 post, economist Bob Williams of the Tax Policy Center complains that Congress has yet to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax for 2010—the last fix expired last year. Unless it moves quickly, many middle-income taxpayers will be forced to pay a tax originally imposed to soak the rich.

On September 27, the Cato Institute published a study on the fiscal impact of drug legalization by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron and NYU economist Katherine Waldock. They note that not only could governments raise substantial revenues by taxing currently illegal drugs, but also save enormous sums now spent on enforcement and incarceration.

In a September 24 commentary, journalist David Cay Johnston is highly critical of the Bush tax cuts, which Congress is debating whether to extend. He says there is little if any evidence that they benefited the economy or improved the tax code.

On September 23, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on lessons from the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Testifying were former House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for tax policy John Chapoton, and former deputy chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation Randall Weiss.

On September 23, Canada’s National Post newspaper concluded a five-part series on the problem of illegal tobacco sales resulting from high taxes on cigarettes in Canada.

On September 21, the American Council for Capital Formation published a study by economist Allen Sinai that recommended abolition of the capital gains tax as a low-cost stimulus measure.

Also on September 21, economist Diane Rogers published a commentary critical of extending tax cuts at a time when the budget deficit is a serious problem.

On September 20, economists Olivier Jeanne and Anton Korinek published a paper suggesting that a tax on borrowing might moderate credit booms and busts.

The Fall issue of Regulation magazine contains articles on tax expenditures, the Alternative Minimum Tax, and taxes on sugary drinks.

I last posted items on this topic on September 21.

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. Read his most recent column here. 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, Impostor: 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.