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Tax Reform in the United States. by Jon Forman Alfred P. Murrah Professor of Law University of Oklahoma Norman, Oklahoma & ATAX Fellow, UNSW Tax-Work-in-Progress Seminar University of Sydney August 2, 2011. Overview. The Budget Outlook Short-term Long-term Taxes

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tax reform in the united states

Tax Reform in the United States

by Jon Forman

Alfred P. Murrah Professor of Law

University of Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma

& ATAX Fellow, UNSW

Tax-Work-in-Progress

Seminar

University of Sydney

August 2, 2011

overview
Overview
  • The Budget Outlook
    • Short-term
    • Long-term
  • Taxes
    • The Current Tax System
    • Recent Tax Reform Proposals
slide3
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service, A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the United States Government (2010), at 2, http://fms.treas.gov/fr/10frusg/10frusg.pdf.
slide5
Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021 (January 2011), at xv, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/01-26_FY2011Outlook.pdf.
slide7
Congressional Budget Office, Four Observations about the Federal Budget (March 7, 2011), at 6 http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12087/CBO_Presentation_to_NABE_3-7-11.pdf.
getting back in the black
Getting back in the black

Australian Government, Budget Overview (2011), at 8, http://cache.treasury.gov.au/budget/2011-12/content/download/Overview.pdf.

slide10
Australian Government, Budget Overview, Budget Statement 1, at 1-13 (2011), http://cache.treasury.gov.au/budget/2011-12/content/download/bp1.pdf.
short term projected budget totals
Short-Term:Projected Budget Totals

Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021 (January 2011), at xii, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/01-26_FY2011Outlook.pdf.

slide12
Congressional Budget Office, Four Observations about the Federal Budget (March 7, 2011), at 7, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12087/CBO_Presentation_to_NABE_3-7-11.pdf.
slide13
Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021 (January 2011), at 86, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/01-26_FY2011Outlook.pdf.
slide17
Congressional Budget Office, Four Observations about the Federal Budget (March 7, 2011), at 8, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12087/CBO_Presentation_to_NABE_3-7-11.pdf.
slide18
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service, A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the United States Government (2009).
slide19
Congressional Budget Office, The Long-Term Budget Outlook (June 2011), at xi, http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12212.
slide20
Sources of Growth in Federal Spending onMajor Mandatory Health Care Programs & Social Security, 2011 to 2035 (% GDP)

Congressional Budget Office, The Long-Term Budget Outlook (June 2011), at 11, http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12212.

slide21
Congressional Budget Office, The Long-Term Budget Outlook (June 2011), at 62, http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12212.
slide22
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service, A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the United States Government (2010), at iii, http://fms.treas.gov/fr/10frusg/10frusg.pdf.
slide23
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service, A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the United States Government (2010), at viii, http://fms.treas.gov/fr/10frusg/10frusg.pdf.
slide24
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service, A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the United States Government (2010), at 12, http://fms.treas.gov/fr/10frusg/10frusg.pdf.
slide25
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service, A Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the United States Government (2010), at 18, http://fms.treas.gov/fr/10frusg/10frusg.pdf.
slide26
Congressional Budget Office, The Long-Term Budget Outlook (June 2011), at 80, http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12212.
slide27
Congressional Budget Office, The Long-Term Budget Outlook (June 2011), at 80, http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12212.
taxes
Taxes
  • Overview of the federal tax system
  • Recent tax reform proposals
slide29
Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Historical Overview of the Federal Tax System (JCX-1-11), January 18, 2011, www.jct.gov.

Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Historical Overview of the Federal Tax System (JCX-1-11), January 18, 2011, at 70,www.jct.gov.

slide30
Congressional Budget Office, The Long-Term Budget Outlook (June 2011), at 64, http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12212.
slide31
Tax-to-GDP ratio, 2008

OECD Tax Database, http://www.oecd.org.

slide32
Edward D. Kleinbard, Muddling Through the Budget Crisis (January 6, 2011); OECD Tax Database, http://www.oecd.org.
slide33
Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Historical Overview of the Federal Tax System (JCX-1-11), January 18, 2011, at 72,www.jct.gov.
slide34
Congressional Budget Office, Trends in Federal Tax Revenues and Rates (December 2, 2010), at 10, http://finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/120210DEtest.pdf.
u s standard deductions personal exemptions and simple income tax thresholds 2011
U.S. Standard Deductions, Personal Exemptions, and Simple Income Tax Thresholds, 2011

Rev. Proc. 2011-12, 2011-2 IRB 297, http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-irbs/irb11-02.pdf.

slide37
Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Historical Overview of the Federal Tax System (JCX-1-11), January 18, 2011, at 71, www.jct.gov.
proposed budget receipts
Proposed Budget Receipts

Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021 (January 2011), at 87, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/01-26_FY2011Outlook.pdf.

slide39
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Top Ten Tax Charts (April 14, 2011), http://www.offthechartsblog.org/top-ten-tax-charts/.
slide40
U.S. Payroll Tax Rates: Selected Years

20

18

16

14

12

Percent paid jointly by employee and employer

Medicare

10

Social Security

8

6

4

2

0

1940

1960

1980

2010

Year

slide41
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Top Ten Tax Charts (April 14, 2011), http://www.offthechartsblog.org/top-ten-tax-charts/.
slide42
Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Historical Overview of the Federal Tax System (JCX-1-11), January 18, 2011, at 66, www.jct.gov.
slide43
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Top Ten Tax Charts (April 14, 2011), http://www.offthechartsblog.org/top-ten-tax-charts/.
top 10 income tax expenditures 2012 billions
Top 10 Income Tax Expenditures, 2012 (Billions)

44

2012 Federal Budget, Analytical Perspectives, Chapter 17, Tax Expenditures, Table 17-3, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Analytical_Perspectives.

slide45
Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021 (January 2011), at 97. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/01-26_FY2011Outlook.pdf.
slide46
46
  • Office of Management and the Budget, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2010 (2009), at 11, http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/pdf/fy10-newera.pdf.
slide47
Productivity and Real Income

20 Facts About U.S. Inequality that Everyone Should Know, http://stanford.edu/group/scspi/cgi-bin/facts.php.

rising poverty
Rising Poverty

U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, at 14, (Current Population Report No. P60-238, September 2010), http://www.census.gov.

slide49
Congressional Budget Office, Trends in Federal Tax Revenues and Rates (December 2, 2010), at 24, http://finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/120210DEtest.pdf.
slide51
Congressional Budget Office, Trends in Federal Tax Revenues and Rates (December 2, 2010), at 15, http://finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/120210DEtest.pdf.
shares of total business returns and net income 1980 2007
Shares of Total Business Returns and Net Income, 1980-2007

Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income, www.irs.gov/taxstats.

expired tax provisions 2010
Expired Tax Provisions 2010
  • First-time homebuyer credit
  • Making work pay credit
  • Build America Bonds
  • Estate and gift tax regime for 2010

Joint Committee on Taxation, List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions, 2010-2020 (JCX-2-11), January 21, 2011, www.jct.gov.

expiring tax provisions 2011
Expiring Tax Provisions 2011
  • Tax credit for research and experimentation expenses
  • Increased AMT exemption amount
  • Increase in expensing to $500,000/$2,000,000
  • Above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses
  • Temporary 2% payroll tax cut

Joint Committee on Taxation, List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions, 2010-2020 (JCX-2-11), January 21, 2011, www.jct.gov.

expiring tax provisions 2012
Expiring Tax Provisions 2012
  • Most 2001 and 2003 tax cuts
    • 35% maximum rate
    • 10% minimum rate
    • $1,000 child tax credit
    • 15% capital gain and dividend rates
  • Expanded earned income tax credit
  • American opportunity tax credit
  • Reduced estate and gift taxes

Joint Committee on Taxation, List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions, 2010-2020 (JCX-2-11), January 21, 2011, www.jct.gov.

slide57
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Top Ten Tax Charts (April 14, 2011), http://www.offthechartsblog.org/top-ten-tax-charts/.
recent tax reform proposals
Recent Tax Reform Proposals
  • President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation (August 2010).
  • National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, The Moment of Truth (December 2010).
  • Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010).
    • Co-Chairs: Pete Domenici & Alice Rivlin
recent tax reform proposals1
Recent Tax Reform Proposals
  • Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011 (2011).
    • Senators Ron Wyden and Dan Coats
  • Rep. Paul Ryan, The Roadmap Plan (2010).
  • National Taxpayer Advocate, 2010 Annual Report to Congress (December 31, 2010).
  • President Obama’s FY2012 Budget
recent tax reform proposals2
Recent Tax Reform Proposals
  • President Obama, Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility (April 13, 2011).
  • See also:
    • Choosing The Nation’s Fiscal Future (National Research Council & National Academy of Public Administration 2010)
    • The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform, Red Ink Rising: A Call to Action to Stem the Mounting Federal Debt (2009).
principles of sound tax policy
Principles of Sound Tax Policy
  • Simplicity
  • Transparency
  • Neutrality
  • Stability
  • No Retroactivity
  • Broad Bases and Low Rates

Tax Foundation, The Principles of Sound Tax Policy , http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/25982.html.

more principles of sound tax policy
More Principles of Sound Tax Policy

Distribution matters

A just distribution of economic resources

Intergenerational justice/ Deficits

Behavioral consequences matter

Encourage work and savings

Marriage penalties and bonuses

Keep effective rates as low as possible

Growth and a stronger dollar

62

more principles of sound tax policy1
More Principles of Sound Tax Policy
  • “The need to raise revenue makes it more crucial, not less, to enact structural reforms that focus on efficiency, equity and simplicity in the tax system.”
          • William G. Gale & Benjamin H. Harris, Reforming Taxes and Raising Revenue: Part of the Fiscal Solution (May 2011), http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2011/05_fiscal_solution_gale_harris.aspx.
          • Income & Payroll Tax; VAT or Energy Tax
tax base
Tax Base

Income

Consumption

Earnings

Wealth

perab simplification options
PERAB: Simplification Options
  • Simplification for Families
    • Consolidate Family Credits and Simplify Eligibility Rules
    • Simplify and Consolidate Tax Incentives for Education

PERAB, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/PERAB_Tax_Reform_Report.pdf.

perab simplification options1
PERAB: Simplification Options
  • Simplify Savings and Retirement Incentives
    • Consolidate Retirement Accounts
    • Integrate IRA and 401(k)-type Contribution Limits and Disallow Nondeductible Contributions
    • Consolidate Non-Retirement Savings
    • Reduce Retirement Account Leakage
    • Simplify Taxation of Social Security

PERAB, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/PERAB_Tax_Reform_Report.pdf.

perab simplification options2
PERAB: Simplification Options
  • Simplify Taxation of Capital Gains
    • Harmonize Rules and Tax Rates for Long-Term Capital Gains
    • Simplify Capital Gains Tax Rate Structure
    • Limit or Repeal Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges
    • Capital Gains on Principal Residences

PERAB, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/PERAB_Tax_Reform_Report.pdf.

perab simplification options3
PERAB: Simplification Options
  • Simplify Tax Filing
    • The Simple Return
    • Data Retrieval
    • Raise the Standard Deduction and Reduce the Benefit of Itemized Deductions
  • Simplification for Small Business
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax

PERAB, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/PERAB_Tax_Reform_Report.pdf.

perab compliance options
PERAB: Compliance Options
  • Dedicate More Resources to Enforcement and Enhance Enforcement Tools
  • Increase Information Reporting and Source Withholding
  • Clarify the Definition of a Contractor

PERAB, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/PERAB_Tax_Reform_Report.pdf.

perab corporate tax reform
PERAB: Corporate Tax Reform
  • Reduce Marginal Corporate Rates
  • Broaden the Corporate Tax Base
  • Eliminate or Reduce Tax Expenditures
    • Eliminate the Domestic Production Deduction
    • Eliminate or Reduce Accelerated Depreciation
    • Eliminate Other Tax Expenditures

PERAB, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/PERAB_Tax_Reform_Report.pdf.

perab international corporate tax issues
PERAB: International Corporate Tax Issues
  • Option 1: Move to a Territorial System
  • Option 2: Move to a Worldwide System with a Lower Corporate Tax Rate
  • Option 3: Limit or End Deferral with the Current Corporate Tax Rate
  • Option 4: Retain the Current System but Lower the Corporate Tax Rate

PERAB, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/PERAB_Tax_Reform_Report.pdf.

president s fiscal commission
President’s Fiscal Commission
  • Co-chairs: Alan Simpson & Erskine Bowles
  • Designed to raise 21% of GDP
  • Individual tax rates of 12, 22, and 28%
  • Eliminate the AMT
  • Eliminate the phase-out of personal exemptions & limits on itemized deductions
  • Eliminate itemized deductions but retain standard deduction & personal exemptions
  • Tax capital gains & dividends as ordinary income

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, The Moment of Truth (December 2010), http://www.fiscalcommission.gov; Tax Policy Center, http://www.taxpolicycenter.org.

president s fiscal commission1
President’s Fiscal Commission
  • Eliminate tax expenditures except:
    • child credit and earned income tax credit
    • mortgage interest deduction—replace with 12% credit; $500,000 mortgage cap
    • cap and phase out the exclusion for employer-sponsored health care
    • charitable giving deduction—replace with 12% credit for contributions over 2% AGI

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, The Moment of Truth (December 2010), http://www.fiscalcommission.gov.

president s fiscal commission2
President’s Fiscal Commission
  • Eliminate tax expenditures except:
    • exclusion of interest on state and municipal bonds—tax interest only on newly-issued bonds
    • retirement savings—maintain basic preferences, but consolidate retirement accounts and cap annual tax-preferred contributions at lower of $20,000 or 20 percent of income; expand savers’ credit
    • defined benefit pensions

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, The Moment of Truth (December 2010), http://www.fiscalcommission.gov.

president s fiscal commission3
President’s Fiscal Commission
  • Eliminate corporate tax expenditures & reduce corporate tax rate to 28%
  • Territorial tax system for active foreign-source income
  • Increase Social Security taxable wage base to 90% of wages, by 2050
  • Increase the gasoline excise tax on gasoline by 15¢ per gallon

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, The Moment of Truth (December 2010), http://www.fiscalcommission.gov.

bipartisan policy center
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Co-Chairs: Pete Domenici & Alice Rivlin
  • one-year payroll tax holiday in 2011 to help stimulate economic recovery
  • individual tax rates: 15% on the 1st $50,000 of taxable income ($100,000 for married couples, 27% on excess
  • eliminate the AMT

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

bipartisan policy center1
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Eliminate tax expenditures:
    • exclusion from tax of the inside buildup of life insurance and deferred annuities
    • credits and deductions for higher education expenses
    • credit for child & dependent care
    • exclusion from income of benefits under Section 125 cafeteria plans
    • foreign earned income exclusion

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

bipartisan policy center2
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Exempt the first $1,000 of net long-term gains from taxation (indexed for inflation)
    • tax any additional long-term gains and all qualified dividends as ordinary income
    • include in income unrealized capital gains at death
  • Cap and phase out the exclusion for employer-sponsored health care

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

bipartisan policy center3
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Eliminate deduction for state and local taxes
  • Replace charitable contributions and mortgage interest deductions with 15% refundable credits
  • Retain medical deduction

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

bipartisan policy center4
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Replace the standard deduction, personal exemptions, head of household filing status, the child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit with two refundable credits:
    • $1,600 for each dependent child
    • an earnings credit equal to 21.3 percent of the first $20,300 of earnings

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

bipartisan policy center5
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Tax all Social Security benefits, eliminate the elderly credit & provide 2 new credits:
    • 7.5% of Social Security benefits
    • 15% of the current standard deduction for individuals age 65 or older
  • Increase Social Security taxable wage base to 90% of wages

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

bipartisan policy center6
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Impose a 6.5% broad-based consumption tax
  • Impose an excise tax 1¢/ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Raise the excise tax on alcoholic beverages to 25¢/ounce
  • Estate tax: $3.5 million exemption and 45% maximum tax rate

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

bipartisan policy center7
Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Corporate taxes
    • reduce the corporate rate to 27%
    • eliminate many tax expenditures:
      • domestic production deduction
      • research and experimentation credit
      • accelerated depreciation for rental housing
    • retain deferral of income for controlled foreign corporations

Bipartisan Policy Center, Restoring America’s Future (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/FINAL%20DRTF%20REPORT%2011.16.10.pdf.

wyden coats tax act
Wyden-Coats Tax Act
  • Like the Tax Reform Act of 1986
  • Individuals
    • top tax rate of 35%
    • standard deduction of $15,000 ($30,000 for couples)
    • repeal AMT
    • 35% exclusion for capital gains and qualified dividends
    • eliminate lots of tax breaks

Senator Ron Wyden, The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011 (2011), http://wyden.senate.gov/issues/legislation/details/?id=fb5b603a-ed94-48a8-8ff1-c220c1052b3f.

wyden coats tax act1
Wyden-Coats Tax Act
  • Corporate & business
    • replaces the graduated corporate rate structure with a flat rate of 24%
    • eliminates many business tax breaks
    • allow unlimited expensing of equipment and inventories for small businesses

Senator Ron Wyden, The Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011 (2011), http://wyden.senate.gov/issues/legislation/details/?id=fb5b603a-ed94-48a8-8ff1-c220c1052b3f.

rep ryan s roadmap
Rep. Ryan’s Roadmap
  • Designed to raise 19% of GDP
  • Pay income taxes through existing law, or
  • Through a highly simplified code with virtually no tax breaks
    • 10% on the first $50,000 ($100,000 for couples), 25% on the rest
    • $39,000 standard deduction & personal exemptions for a family of 4

Paul Ryan, The Roadmap Plan (2010), http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov.

rep ryan s roadmap1
Rep. Ryan’s Roadmap
    • eliminate the AMT
    • eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends
  • Eliminate the estate tax
  • Replace the corporate income tax with a border-adjustable business consumption tax of 8.5%
  • See also House Committee on Budget, The Path to Prosperity (2011)

Paul Ryan, The Roadmap Plan (2010), http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov.

national taxpayer advocate
National Taxpayer Advocate
  • Repeal the AMT
  • Consolidate the family tax provisions
  • Improve other provisions relating to taxation of the family unit
  • Consolidate education savings incentives
  • Consolidate retirement savings incentives

National Taxpayer Advocate, 2010 Annual Report to Congress (December 31, 2010), http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/Media-Resources/Annual-Report-To-Congress-Full-Report.

national taxpayer advocate1
National Taxpayer Advocate
  • Simplify worker classification determinations
  • Eliminate (or reduce incentives for lawmakers to enact tax sunsets
  • Eliminate (or simplify) phase outs
  • Streamline the penalty regime

National Taxpayer Advocate, 2010 Annual Report to Congress (December 31, 2010), http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/Media-Resources/Annual-Report-To-Congress-Full-Report.

president obama reform corporate individual tax
President Obama: Reform Corporate & Individual Tax
  • “I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit. It can be done.”
  • “In fact, the best thing we could do for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.”

Text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address , http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48181.html.

president obama s 2012 budget
President Obama’s 2012 Budget
  • Extend the Earned Income Credit
  • Expand the Dependent Care Credit
  • Extend American Opportunity Credit
  • Tax Dividends and Net Long-Term Capital Gains at a 20-Percent Rate for Upper-Income Taxpayers
  • Reduce the Value of Certain Tax Expenditures for Upper-Income

U.S. Department of the Treasury, General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 Revenue Proposals (February 2011), http://www.treasury.gov/.

president obama s 2012 budget1
President Obama’s 2012 Budget
  • Enhance and Make Permanent the Research and Experimentation (R&E) Tax Credit
  • Reform & Extend Build America Bonds
  • Reform Treatment of Financial Institutions and Products
  • Reinstate Superfund Taxes
  • Reform U.S. International Tax System

U.S. Department of the Treasury, General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 Revenue Proposals (February 2011), http://www.treasury.gov/.

president obama s 2012 budget2
President Obama’s 2012 Budget
  • Eliminate Oil and Gas Preferences
  • Eliminate Coal Preferences
  • Expand Information Reporting
  • Improve Compliance by Businesses
    • Require Greater Electronic Filing
    • Worker Classification
  • Strengthen Tax Administration
  • Expand Penalties

U.S. Department of the Treasury, General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 Revenue Proposals (February 2011), http://www.treasury.gov/.

president obama s framework for shared prosperity and shared fiscal responsibility
President Obama’s Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility

The White House, http://www.whitehouse.gov/winning-the-future/fiscal-framework.

president obama s framework another 12 year estimate 5 3t
President Obama’s Framework: another 12-year estimate: $5.3T
  • Restore high-bracket tax rates to Clinton-era levels: $1T
  • Cut tax-expenditure spending through the tax code: $1T
  • Cut health care spending: $0.5T
  • Cut other mandatory spending by: $0.4T
  • Cut security spending: $0.4T
  • Cut non-security discretionary spending: $0.8T
  • Those reductions will carry with them a reduction in net interest of: $1.2T

Brad DeLong, http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/04/the-obama-deficit-reduction-framework.html.

president obama s framework tax reform
President Obama’s Framework: Tax Reform
  • $3 of spending cuts and interest savings for every $1 from tax reform that contributes to deficit reduction
  • comprehensive tax reform to produce a system which is fairer, has fewer loopholes, less complexity, and is not rigged in favor of those with lawyers and accountants to game it.

The White House, Fact Sheet: The President’s Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility (April 13, 2011), www.whitehouse.gov.

president obama s framework tax reform1
President Obama’s Framework: Tax Reform
  • Would not extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans
  • Builds on the Fiscal Commission’s goal of reducing tax expenditures to both lower rates and lower the deficit
  • Corporate tax
    • eliminate loopholes
    • reduce distortions
    • lower the corporate tax rate

The White House, Fact Sheet: The President’s Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility (April 13, 2011), www.whitehouse.gov.

center for american progress left wing plan
Center for American Progress(left-wing plan)
  • 15% income tax rate on couples with income under $100,000
    • Most loopholes eliminated; 15% credits instead
  • Tax on greenhouse gases & oil import fee of $5 per barrel
  • Financial transactions tax
  • Remove cap on employer payroll tax
  • Estate tax

Peter G. Peterson Foundation, 2011 Fiscal Summit: Solutions for America’s Future (May 2011), at 44-46.

heritage foundation right wing plan
Heritage Foundation(right-wing plan)
  • Single-rate tax income tax on all income sources that are spent on consumption (savings are deductible)
  • Eliminates the estate tax
  • Few deductions of credits
  • Rate set to raise 18.5% of GDP
    • Probably 25-30%

Peter G. Peterson Foundation, 2011 Fiscal Summit: Solutions for America’s Future (May 2011), at 57-59.

probable reforms
Probable Reforms
  • Eliminate the LIFO method of accounting
  • Repeal oil company tax breaks
  • Eliminate graduated corporate rates
  • Eliminate capital gains treatment of carried interest for fund managers
  • Limiting the benefit of itemized deductions to 28 percent
  • Sullivan:  What the Debt Limit Debacle Teaches Us About Tax Reform, http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2011/07/sullivan-what.html
probable reforms continued
Probable Reforms continued
  • Close tax haven loopholes
  • Impose corporate tax on large passthrough entities
  • Extend the depreciable life of corporate aircraft to seven years
  • Repeal the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for corn ethanol
  • Repeal the deduction for domestic production activities
consumption tax options
Consumption Tax Options
  • Progressive Personal Consumption Tax
  • Subtraction method Value Added Tax
    • Treasury Department proposal for Business Activity Tax (BAT)
  • Credit-method (European) VAT
  • National retail sales tax (RST)
  • Charles E. McClure, Jr., Why the United States Needs a Value Added Tax (2009), http://www.taxadmin.org/Fta/meet/09am/papers/McClure.pdf.
earlier tax reform proposals
Earlier Tax Reform Proposals
  • President’s Advisory Panel on Tax Reform, Final Report (2005), http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/taxreformpanel.
  • U.S. Treasury Department, The President's Tax Proposals to the Congress for Fairness, Growth, and Simplicity (1985).
earlier tax reform proposals1
Earlier Tax Reform Proposals
  • U.S. Treasury Department, Tax Reform for Fairness, Simplicity, and Economic Growth: The Treasury Department Report to the President (3 volumes, 1984).
  • David Bradford and the U.S. Treasury Tax Policy Staff, Blueprints for Tax Reform(Arlington, VA: Tax Analysts. 2nd ed. 1984).
conclusion
Conclusion

President needs 60 votes in the Senate and cooperation in the House

The whole tax system is in play

And will be in play for years

Lobbyists will be tripping over each other

Change is almost always incremental

sources
Sources
  • The President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, The Report on Tax Reform Options: Simplification, Compliance, and Corporate Taxation (August 2010), http://www.whitehouse.gov.
  • The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, The Moment of Truth (December 2010), http://www.fiscalcommission.gov.
  • The Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force, Restoring America’s Future: Reviving the Economy, Cutting Spending and Debt, and Creating a Simple, Pro-Growth Tax System (November 2010), http://bipartisanpolicy.org.
sources1
Sources
  • Senators Ron Wyden & Dan Coats, Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2011 (2011), http://wyden.senate.gov/issues/legislation/details/?id=fb5b603a-ed94-48a8-8ff1-c220c1052b3f.
  • Representative Paul Ryan, The Roadmap Plan (2010), http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov.
  • House Committee on Budget, The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise (2011), http://budget.house.gov/UploadedFiles/PathToProsperityFY2012.pdf.
  • Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Historical Overview of the Federal Tax System (JCX-1-11), January 18, 2011, www.jct.gov.
sources2
Sources
  • National Taxpayer Advocate, 2010 Annual Report to Congress (December 31, 2010), http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/Media-Resources/Annual-Report-To-Congress-Full-Report.
  • Office of Management and Budget, 2012 Federal Budget, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.
  • The White House, Fact Sheet: The President’s Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility (April 13, 2011), www.whitehouse.gov.
  • Joint Committee on Taxation, List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions, 2010-2020 (JCX-2-11), January 21, 2011, www.jct.gov.
sources3
Sources
  • The Tax Policy Center, Deficit Reduction Proposals, http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/Deficit-Reduction-Proposals.cfm.
  • Joshua Rosenberg, The U.S. Fiscal Trajectory: Causes and Consequences (January 21, 2011), http://www.abanet.org/tax/MID11/papers/Rosenberg-slidesABA-Boca-Rosenberg.pdf.
  • Peter G. Peterson Foundation, 2011 Fiscal Summit: Solutions for America’s Future (May 2011), http://www.pgpf.org/Issues/Fiscal-Outlook/2011/01/20/~/media/88A2881EBE18412EB569ECFC626DA220.

U.S. Department of the Treasury, General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 Revenue Proposals (February 2011), http://www.treasury.gov/.

about the author
About the Author
  • Jonathan Barry Forman (“Jon”) is the Alfred P. Murrah Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law and the author of Making America Work (Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press, 2006).
    • Jon was the Professor in Residence at the Internal Revenue Service Office of Chief Counsel, Washington, DC, for the 2009-2010 academic year.
  • Jon can be reached at [email protected], 405-325-4779, www.law.ou.edu/faculty/forman.shtml.

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