Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Ajay Mehrotra (American Bar Foundation & Northwestern) presents “Economic Expertise, Democratic Constraints, and the Historical Irony of U.S. Tax Policy: Thomas S. Adams and the Beginnings of the Value-Added Tax at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:
I have recently embarked upon a new long-term research project (The VAT Laggard: A Comparative History of U.S. Resistance to the Value-added Tax), which explores why the United States remains the only advanced, industrialized nation that continues to resist the global spread of the value-added tax (VAT). The first part of this comparative-history project examines the 1920s intellectual beginnings of the VAT in the United States.
To give you a sense of the larger project, I have attached a brief essay (The Myth of the ‘Overtaxed’ American and the VAT That Never Was), which is forthcoming in the journal Modern American History. This essay provides some background for the larger project and discusses the other historical periods I plan to cover in later papers. In the future, this brief essay is likely to be the foundation for an introduction to a larger book project.
I have also attached the draft, and still incomplete, paper for this colloquium, titled Economic Expertise, Democratic Constraints, and the Historical Irony of U.S. Tax Policy: Thomas S. Adams and the Beginnings of the Value-Added Tax. This paper focuses on the important role of Thomas S. Adams as the intellectual godfather of the VAT. Thus far, I have only drafted the paper’s introduction and the first section on Adams’s background. At this stage, I plan to write this paper as a standalone article, but eventually I imagine that it will be an early chapter in the broader book project.