Thursday, July 24, 2008
Ask any of the millions of tax paying Americans on April 15th if the current tax system has problems and you'll get a clear answer. Complexity, inequities and international pressures top the ever-growing list of concerns. The last major tax reform in the United States occurred in 1986. Since this bipartisan effort to simplify the tax code, over 16,000 changes have been made, creating an inflating bubble of complexity that is ready to pop. This looming issue coupled with the expiration of the Bush Tax cuts in 2010 have economists, congressmen and concerned Americans scrambling to figure out a direction for immediate reform
Should Congress try to repair the tax code's inequities by moving towards a broader based income tax similar to that of 1986 or should it pursue a consumption-based system such as a flat tax, VAT or national retail sales tax? Also, can America's schizophrenic desires for lower taxes and increased social programs be reconciled?
An Inconvenient Tax explores the answers to these questions and more through interviews with world renowned economists, U.S. congressmen and average citizens across the nation. The pursuit of a better tax code requires a search for the nations identity. As Joseph Schumpeter wrote, "The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare - all of this and more is written in its fiscal history..."
In order to shed light on America's current tax dilemmas, the film will look at the history of taxation in America as well as current tax-systems in other parts of the world. It will also follow a middle-class small business owner as he tries to pursue the American dream. As every aspect of his life is touched by the effects of taxation, the film will pose both the benefits and dangers of change. The next direction for U.S. tax policy will be decided soon, and it is imperative that the country learn from its past and design a system that will benefit its future.
The filmakers have assembled a distinguished group of almost two dozen interviewees for the film, Including Tax Profs Michael Graetz (Columbia) and Dan Shaviro (NYU).