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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Slemrod: Is This Tax Reform, Or Just Confusion?

Joel Slemrod (Michigan), Is This Tax Reform, or Just Confusion?, 32 J. Econ. Perspectives 73 (Fall 2018):

Based on the experience of recent decades, the United States apparently musters the political will to change its tax system comprehensively about every 30 years, so it seems especially important to get it right when the chance arises. Based on the strong public statements of economists opposing and supporting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a causal observer might wonder whether this law was tax reform or mere confusion. In this paper, I address that question and, more importantly, offer an assessment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The law is clearly not "tax reform" as economists usually use that term: that is, it does not seek to broaden the tax base and reduce marginal rates in a roughly revenue-neutral manner.

However, the law is not just a muddle. It seeks to address some widely acknowledged issues with corporate taxation, and takes some steps toward broadening the tax base, in part by reducing the incentive to itemize deductions.

(Hat Tip: Ted Seto.)

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