Friday, February 24, 2012
Calvin H. Johnson (Texas) presents The Shelf Project: How to Raise a Trillion Without a VAT or Tax Rate Increase at Florida today as part of its Graduate Tax Program Enrichment Speaker Series:
Since 2007, the Shelf Project has generated sixty-three proposals, many of which focus on protecting the tax base by reducing or eliminating exemptions, loopholes and shelters-collectively known as tax expenditures. Much of Johnson's scholarship over the years has examined how these tax expenditures introduce inefficiencies. Professor Johnson describes his project as follows:
We should be able to raise at least a trillion dollars a year more revenue within the current income tax system, without a rate hike or a Value Added Tax, largely by making our tax accounting better reflect economic income. Our current system has too many tax pits, which absorb revenue and distort investment decisions. We allow deductions for fictitious losses. 'Taxable income' under our tax accounting does not reach and describe high-class consumption as well as it needs to. Moving toward a more comprehensive income tax base to make it less easily avoided would improve both the fairness and efficiency of the income tax.