Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), The Shelf Project: 82 Fair and Efficient Suggestions to Raise $3.5 Trillion, 173 Tax Notes Fed. 63 (Oct. 4, 2021):
In this article, Johnson examines Shelf Project proposals that could raise $3.5 trillion in revenue over 10 years without increasing tax rates or the tax burden on lowor middle-income taxpayers while also improving the efficiency of the tax system. ...
The suggestions here are derived largely from the Shelf Project, a collaboration by tax professionals defending the tax system and offering proposals to raise revenue in ways that improve its efficiency and fairness. The best tax systems raise revenue by spreading taxes over as broad a base as possible, thereby achieving revenue needs with marginal rates that are as low as possible. The best tax systems are neutral among competing investments. Pretax demand and not “lesions” in the tax accounting should determine which investments are undertaken. Tax rate increases divide the country along partisan lines, but protecting the tax base to keep rates low, ensuring the neutrality of tax among competing investments, and making the tax system fairer and more efficient are enforced by reason and logic and should not be a partisan issue.
The Shelf Project was active from 2007 to 2017. It has had 20 authors and 70 collaborators, but most of the later projects were my work. Eighty-one projects were published in Tax Notes in its Shelf Project column. The name “Shelf Project” analogizes the proposals to war plans that are prepared in advance but can be pulled down from the shelf when needed.