Tax Analysts Blog

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Most people don't break into song when they think about taxes. (More likely, they start cursing under their breath.) But once upon a time, the IRS tried to sing taxpayers into compliance. Last week, NPR's Planet Money did a great podcast on the history of the income tax. (Self-promotion alert: I wa...
Thursday, January 26, 2012
To no one's surprise, except perhaps his own, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has released his 2010 tax return and an estimated 2011 return. What a mess. If Newt Gingrich wins the GOP nomination, he'll owe that victory to Romney's colossal miscalculation. After all, it's not like the...
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Bruce Bartlett is every liberal's favorite conservative. In 2006 he published Impostor, a scathing indictment of President George W. Bush that earned him immediate exile from the ranks of the Republican faithful. Liberals responded with the kind of warm embrace reserved for apostates from the other...
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
In politics, the smart money is always cynical. It bets on inertia, not change; on symbols, not substance. Hope? Progress? Suckers' bets. The smart money isn't always right, but when it comes to the so-called supercommittee, it's made a safe bet. With a week to go, the panel seems unlikely to reach...
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The Senate is poised this week for another exercise in strictly symbolic politics.The VOW to Hire Heroes Act -- a pair of job creation tax incentives extracted from the ruins of President Obama's failed stimulus measure -- seems likely to get a vote in the next few days. Let's hope it passes, so we...
Friday, September 2, 2011
In his recently unveiled tax plan, GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman gets things seriously wrong on the subject of capital gains. Here's what Huntsman has to say: Capital gains and dividend taxes amount to a double-taxation on individuals who choose to invest. Because dollars invested had to...
Monday, August 15, 2011
Some wild White House advisers are just itching to trot out a bold new economic plan, according to the New York Times. The milquetoast crowd -- led by David Plouffe and William Daley -- support small bore initiatives, like free trade agreements and patent reform. By contrast, those wild radicals in...
Monday, August 1, 2011
The debt limit crisis is the best thing to happen to liberalism in 30 years. It's a manufactured crisis, of course. Republicans conjured it out of thin air, convinced that it will force a radical -- and permanent -- reduction in the size of government. But they're wrong. Far from starving the beast...
Friday, July 15, 2011
Grover Norquist is everywhere. In recent weeks, the head honcho at Americans for Tax Reform has been profiled, lauded, or excoriated by a slew of media outlets. I was interviewed earlier this week for a piece on NPR, and a quick search turns up recent items at CNN, The Week, the Washington Post, an...
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Today, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee held a joint hearing on tax reform. Which is the same subject they took up during their last joint hearing, 71 years ago. Then, as now, one of the key arguments for reform was the business community's demand for "certainty."...
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The tax code is complicated enough -- did President Ronald Reagan really have to make it worse by misquoting it? In 1986, Reagan began a famous speech with a selection, of sorts, from the Internal Revenue Code. For purposes of Paragraph (3), an organization described in Paragraph (2) shall be deeme...
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tax avoidance is legal and tax evasion is not. Simple distinction, but not always relevant, at least not in politics. Consider the recent burst of outrage over corporate tax avoidance generally and General Electric's tax bill in particular. In some years, GE's tax schemes might have escaped public...
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Other than "too much," the most common complaint about the income tax is probably "too complicated." Fair enough. But let's not turn this legitimate objection into another count in the indictment of modern American government. The income tax today is complex, but it was complex in decades past, too...
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
You know things are looking up when Grover Norquist is catching flack for being soft on tax hikes. In a surreal exchange between the GOP's Martinet of Fiscal Conformity and the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, Norquist has emerged as a champion of creeping socialism. How exactly did this paragon of cons...
Thursday, March 17, 2011
A few days ago, Joe Henchman of the Tax Foundation posted a fascinating item on Warren Harding's tax bill for 1922. The president paid $17,000 in tax, Henchman reported, on a presidential salary of $75,000. Apparently, this was the first time a president had filed a tax return, since Woodrow Wilson...
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Think tax avoidance is worse today than ever before? Well, maybe it is. But consider this complaint from nearly 75 years ago: "The investigation of the income tax returns for each successive year reveals the increasingly stubborn fight of wealthy individuals and corporations against the payment of...
Monday, February 21, 2011
Tim Pawlenty thinks members of Congress should be forced to do their own taxes. And people seem to like the idea. "Watching our elected representatives take on the challenge, broken pencils and all, could make for some entertaining moments — a kind of reality TV meets C-Span," observes John Schwar...
Friday, February 18, 2011
Tax reform always seems like such a good idea -- and such an obvious one -- that it's easy to forget how hard it can be. But it is hard, not least because existing tax structures tend to be well-entrenched. That's a fact that reformers confront with regularity. Consider this comment from 1884: But...
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Ezra Klein thinks Keynesianism has a serious political problem. Keynesianism might be good economics, but persuading people that the right response to a recession caused by overspending and running up debt is for the government should start spending heavily and running up debt is a bit like trying...
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Corporations like to complain about their taxes. In testimony, statements, and speeches, executives rehearse the same old litany of woe. Rates are too high! We pay too much! We can't compete with foreign companies! There's a kernel of truth in these complaints. U.S. corporate tax rates are among th...