Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to raise tax revenue without raising tax rates

My former macro prof Marty Feldstein has an NYT op-ed where he proposes a new way to generate more tax revenue without raising the tax rates.  This is an important issue because (1) with an aging population and rising health care costs, government spending is unlikely to return to its historic trend of 18-19 percent of GDP and (2) if all we do is raise tax rates, this will distort incentives to work and save.

The Bowles-Simpson commission proposed eliminating all tax deductions and tax credits, which works mathematically but is probably a bit naive politically.  Feldstein would simply cap the credits and deductions that one could claim at 2 percent of adjusted gross income.  He estimates that such a cap would raise $278 billion in tax revenue for the federal government this year.  Probably will not get Marty much love from the Tea Party crowd.

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