Fundamental Tax Reform Is the Key to Solving Our Economic and Fiscal Problems II. The Graetz Plan

The Yale Tax Law Professor, Michael Graetz, has proposed a new tax system “100 Million Unnecessary Returns: A Simple, Fair, and Competitive Tax Plan for the United States” which would do wonders towards straightening out the huge fiscal and economic problems now facing our country.
CaptureHow do we rev up the national economy in order to put more people back to work and, at the same time, raise the revenue needed to operate the government in the 21st century without mountains of debt?  Mr. Graetz’s basic idea is to tax consumption rather than relying totally on an income tax.  Under his plan both savings and investments will be taxed at a lower rate which will encourage more of both.  The Plan has these features:

  • A broad based Value Added Tax of about 14% is enacted on goods and services.  The U.S. is the only advanced economy without a VAT.
  • Families earning less than $100,000 are exempted from the income tax.  For incomes between $100,000 and $250,000, the tax rate would be 15%.  For income over $250,000, the rate would be 25%.
  • The corporate income tax rate is lowered to 15%.
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is used to provide relief from the VAT burden to low-income families by using payroll tax offsets.
  • The plan is designed to be revenue neutral as verified by the Tax Policy Center.

This plan has many advantages including:

  • Taxing consumption and lowering the corporate tax rate to 15% from its current level of 35% would dramatically encourage investment in the U.S. thereby stimulating the economy and creating both new jobs and higher wages for American workers.
  • It would eliminate more than 100 million of the 140 million U.S. tax returns.
  • With many fewer Americans paying income taxes there would be far less temptation for Congress to use income tax exclusions, deductions and credits to try to address social and economic problems.
  • The plan retains all of the progressive features of our current tax system whereby higher income earners pay higher tax rates.

The point of describing the Graetz Plan in some detail is not to suggest that it is the best way to implement tax reform but rather that here, at least, is one attractive way to do it.  The purpose is to move the discussion forward.  We badly need to make changes along these lines!

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