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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Field on Transparency in Revenue Estimating

Tax_analysts_20Tom Field, the founder of Tax Analysts, has published Transparency in Revenue Estimating, 106 Tax Notes 329 (2005) (also available on the Tax Analysts web site as Doc 2004-24018, 2005 TNT 12-32).  Here is the abstract:

Thomas F. Field is the founder of Tax Analysts, a nonprofit publisher located in Arlington, Virginia. For more than 30 years, Tax Analysts has played a prominent role in litigating disclosure questions relating to tax information.

In this article, Field reviews current transparency practices at the three federal agencies that produce revenue estimates. He concludes that the U.S. Treasury Department is very secretive with respect to its revenue estimates, that the Congressional Budget Office is quite transparent, and that the Joint Committee on Taxation occupies a middle ground.

Field then reviews the arguments for and against greater transparency in the revenue estimating process. He also examines state and international estimating practices to see if they provide any guidance about the appropriate degree of transparency for revenue estimates. At the conclusion of the article, he advances a set of proposals to improve the transparency of the federal estimating process.

This article is based on interviews with scores of individuals both in and outside of government. Most asked not to be identified, but Field wishes to thank each of them for their assistance. Their comments helped to correct errors and substantially improved the recommendations. Thanks to these comments, this article has truly become a collective effort by dozens of individuals who share a common interest in the improvement of the estimating process. The article's errors, however, remain Field's own.

This article is part of an ongoing series of articles in Tax Notes on the revenue estimating process. The series was funded by a consortium of sponsors headed by the Lone Star and Heritage Foundations. For an introduction to the series, see Tax Notes, Nov. 22, 2004, p. 1141.

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