Focus on Tax Policy

Focus on Tax Policy

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On March 30, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on tax complexity.


Also on March 30, the Tax Foundation announced that “tax freedom day” would fall on April 12 this year. That same day, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities posted a commentary that was highly critical of the Tax Foundation’s methodology.


And on March 30, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development announced the establishment of a new database to measure the impact of fiscal decentralization in its member countries.


On March 30, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper on the extent to which state gasoline taxes are passed through to consumers.


On March 29, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) wrote a letter to Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist questioning ATR’s opposition to eliminating tax subsidies for ethanol on the grounds that it would constitute an impermissible tax increase. That same day, ATR sent a letter to Coburn asserting that elimination of the ethanol subsidy is indeed a tax increase.


In a March 28 article, economist Martin Sullivan of Tax Analysts discussed some of the constraints involved in reforming the corporate tax. He believes that revenue-neutral reform limited to the corporate income tax has too few benefits to be meaningful.


Also on March 28, economist Donald Marron of the Tax Policy Center published an article on the size of tax expenditures. He finds that such provisions cost between $1.068 trillion and $1.288 trillion depending on how they are measured.


A March 16 study by the Howe Institute in Canada examined the economic cost of raising new revenue in different ways. If finds that raising the corporate income tax is by far the costliest method.


On March 10, the Adam Smith Institute in London published a study on the revenue and growth effects of high personal taxes in Britain. It finds that the recent increase in the top rate to 50 percent in the U.K. has had very negative effects.


I last posted items on this topic on March 25.


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.