October 1, 2014

Debating Changes in Federal Tax System

  • The nation's fiscal future depends on the balance between the spending in the federal budget and the revenues flowing into the treasury. Tax policy...

As today’s federal tax filing deadline approached, policymakers and analysts continued their debates over how to improve the U.S. tax system. A program last week at the Tax Policy Center (TPC), for example, focused on whether the rich should pay higher taxes.

Defining “rich” can be tricky; Concord Coalition Chief Economist Diane Lim Rogers says it is a relative concept that “depends on one’s personal ‘baseline.’ ” She suggests in a blog post today, however, that “the rich” should be defined more broadly than multi-millionaires.

Federal revenues as a share of the economy are currently far lower than the 18 percent average for recent decades. Rogers says she and the other panel members at the TPC event generally agreed that the government needs at least some additional revenue and that wealthier Americans could best manage higher tax burdens.

There were disagreements, however, over how much additional revenue the government needs and how it could best be raised. Panel members also debated whether raising marginal tax rates on people with high incomes would cause them not to work as hard as in the past, resulting in harm to the economy.

Joining Rogers on the panel were Donald Marron, TPC director; Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, and David Levine, an economist and a member of the “Responsible Wealth” coalition.

Read more with Tax Day Question: Who Are the Rich and Why Should They Pay Higher Taxes?