Tax Analysts Blog

Dysfunctional Business Taxes: Yesterday, Today, Forever

Posted on Jul 21, 2009

Consider the comments of an eminent economist:

    Over the past half-century or more there has developed in this country a fairly elaborate structure of federal and state business taxes. This structure, as it is now constituted, is generally recognized to be singularly devoid of any plan and to be inconsistent in its underlying principles. At best it is the disordered product of fiscal expediency and piecemeal legislation--a more or less accidental conglomeration of tax laws, enacted at different times and applied to different types of businesses or different attributes of the same businesses, according to the exigencies of the moment.

A reasonable indictment of business taxation as we know it today. Except that it wasn't written today: it was published 69 years ago by Paul Studenski, a leading liberal economist of the New Deal era. (I came across it while researching an article on the early history of the value-added tax, which Studenski considered the future of business taxation.)

Crappy taxes: same as they ever were.

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