Tax Analysts Blog

 
Director of the Tax History Project and Contributing Editor
Joseph J. Thorndike

Joseph J. Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts is a nationally recognized tax historian. He is a regular columnist for Tax Analysts' publications, including Tax Notes magazine, and a writer for the Tax Analysts blog. A prolific author on the history of American taxation, Thorndlike's latest book is Their Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR, published by the Urban Institue Press. Thorndlike serves as a visiting scholar in the history at the University of Virginia and teaches tax policy at the Northwestern University School of Law. He holds a BA from Williams College and an MA and PhD from the University of Virginia.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bernie Sanders won’t withdraw and won’t endorse Hilary Clinton. He has promised to vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee – and to campaign against Donald Trump. But for the time being, he’s staying in the “race,” determined to boost his leverage within the Democratic Party.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Donald Trump is a big fan of tariffs. He’s made them a cornerstone of his get-tough trade policy, suggesting (among other things) a 45 percent import duty on Chinese goods and a 35 percent tariff on cars manufactured in Mexico. And as Time magazine recently observed, he’s not the least bit concerned about the potential fallout. “Who the hell cares about a trade war?” he said last month.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Donald Trump likes to compare himself to Ronald Reagan, especially when trying to explain how a former Democrat finds himself at the top of the GOP ticket. But Reagan and Trump have something else in common, too: The Gipper, just like The Donald, wanted to keep his tax returns private.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Donald Trump has now reneged on his promise to release his personal tax returns. That should come as no surprise, given The Donald’s difficulty in keeping his story (and his excuses) straight. But in saying that he expects to disclose no tax returns before the November election, Trump is set to become the first major party nominee since 1976 to elevate his personal privacy over the public interest.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Since 1960, Congress has enacted 66 major tax laws. At more than one major law per year, that makes for a pretty good clip -- and a lot of uncertainty.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Which of these things is not like the others: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich?

Thursday, March 24, 2016
I'm of two minds about the estate tax. One the one hand, I think liberals should double down in defense of this, the most progressive of federal taxes. If the left can't win this fight, in this environment — rising inequality, stagnant wages, populist politics — they might as well close up shop...
Friday, February 26, 2016

Donald Trump has finally explained – sort of – why he’s been so evasive about releasing his tax returns. Apparently, he’s being audited. But in fact, that’s no explanation at all: Trump is still free to release his returns, and he should do it today.

Monday, February 8, 2016

If Bernie Sanders wins the New Hampshire primary, it’ll be the best thing to happen to American socialism since Eugene Debs placed fourth in the 1912 presidential election.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Everyone likes tax reform. Except liberals, of course. And conservatives, too.

Monday, December 14, 2015
When Captain Ahab set sail, he was looking for revenge. But the crew of the Pequod were after something less personal and more profitable: sperm whales. And thanks to an 18th-century form of profit sharing, they were motivated to find them. “The method of wage payment in the whaling industry was a...
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Hilary Clinton's presidential campaign is still churning out tax proposals at a furious pace. Over the weekend, she proposed a new credit for caretakers—intended, according to her campaign, to “provide support for the millions of families paying for, coordinating, or providing care for aging or...
Thursday, October 22, 2015

For fans of taxing soda, Mexico is the object lesson. Last year, the country imposed a stiff new tax on sugary drinks. And according to the early data, it's working: The 10 percent tax seems to have cut soda consumption by about 6 percent. You'd think results like that would embolden Mexican lawm...

Monday, October 5, 2015
The “Cadillac” tax – Obamacare's signature albatross – was never a good idea. Sure, it was good policy, as more than 100 economists pointed out last week. But it was always bad politics. And when it comes to building durable social programs, politics matter. There are good reasons to like the...
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush wants to fix the nation's tax law. Which is great – it needs a lot of work. But so far, Bush doesn't seem very interested in fixing something even more important: the IRS. Because even a good tax law will fail when administered by a bad agency. The IRS...
Thursday, August 27, 2015
If foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, then Americans have very big minds, indeed. While trying to make sense of Donald Trump's statements on tax policy, I was struck by their disparate quality; to call them random is to exaggerate their coherence. But then I realized that Trump...
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Hillary Clinton has plans for America – some appealing, some not -- but they all share a common thread. No, it's not “building an economy for tomorrow” or “strengthening America's families.” Rather, it's their tendency to make tax reform a whole lot harder. Consider the “New College Comp...
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Last month, Hillary Clinton released a not entirely novel plan for taxing capital gains. In an effort to encourage long-term thinking and check the rise of what she calls “quarterly capitalism,” she suggested a tax break targeting buy-and-hold investors. If investors are thinking long-term, corpo...
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
If you're a lawmaker who wants to punish the IRS and you're tired of simply starving it of funding, what's next? How about dismantling one of the agency's core functions and outsourcing it to the private sector? That's what Senate Republicans have proposed (again), this time as part of legisla...
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Jeb Bush is poised to take the lead in this year's race for most transparent candidate, and will release 33 years of personal tax returns on his campaign website this afternoon. It's a bold move – and a shrewd one. As Richard Nixon discovered 63 years ago, financial disclosure can be embarrassi...