Author Archive

Dave Camp’s Tax Reform Could Kill Community Foundations

House Ways and Means Committee Chair  Dave Camp deserves credit for proposing a tax reform that takes on many special interests,  something  too few other elected officials are willing to do. But one provision mistakenly threatens the survival of most community foundations without improving the tax system or strengthening the charitable community. The proposal would […]

Why Most Tax Extenders Should Not Be Permanent

What to do about the tax extenders—or, as my colleague Donald Marron calls them, the “tax expirers”? Restoring the current crop (most of which expired on December 31) for 10 years would add about $900 billion to the deficit. House Ways & Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden […]

A Camp-ground for Tax Reformers

By proposing a far-reaching and detailed rewrite of the Revenue Code, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) did something very few elected officials have done in recent years: He stuck out his neck and proposed radical reform. The initial press response has focused on politics and concluded that neither Republicans nor Democrats […]

The Baucus-Hatch “Blank Slate” Approach to Tax Reform Could Be Revolutionary

No one quite knows what exactly Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) mean when they say they will rely upon a “blank slate” as the starting point for tax reform discussions. But done carefully and with political artistry, taking advantage of their unique power, Baucus and Hatch could […]

Can Foundation Giving Relate Better to Society’s Needs Over Time?

Charitable organizations form a vital part of America’s safety net. Ideally, foundations would be able to make greater payouts in hard economic times when needs are greatest. Unfortunately, the design of today’s excise tax on foundations undermines and in fact discourages such efficiency. Under current law, private foundations are required to pay an excise tax […]

IRS and the Targeting of the Tea Party and Other Groups

To help clarify  whether IRS incorrectly, unfairly, or illegally targeted the Tea Party and other conservative groups, here are the  answers to a few basic questions. Is it improper for IRS to target specific groups?  Almost every contact the IRS makes with select taxpayers derives from targeting. Because  its  resources are constrained, the IRS conducts […]

How to Avoid Sequester and Give Both Parties What They Want

I would like to propose a simple plan that would let Republicans and Democrats avoid a blunt, across-the-board sequester that fails to set priorities. It would give both parties something they want without abandoning their core principles. And it would strengthen the party making the proposal by putting the other on the spot if it […]

Why Tax and Transfer Programs Often Discourage Work and Savings

Economists and many policymakers generally agree that our tax and transfer systems should promote opportunity, work, saving, and education rather than consumption. The problem is these programs often penalize people for earning that extra dollar of income. Rather than promoting work and savings, these implicit taxes punish such otherwise positive behavior. These penalties occur in […]

Desperately Needed: A Strong Treasury Department

Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, set the bar very high. The Senate is about to begin debate over President Obama’s nomination of Jack Lew to be Treasury Secretary. Lately, confirmation hearings have often focused on either the personal foibles of candidates or relatively evanescent policy disputes. But at a time when fiscal […]

Current Revenue Solutions Will Barely Reduce the Deficit

Despite the ideological hype over revenue increases for the upper-income taxpayers and restricting itemized tax deductions, almost all the considered changes will tackle only a portion of the deficit. As the graph below indicates, the Congressional Budget Office projects a fiscal year 2015 deficit under current policy of $883 billion, not far from the $1 […]