April 3, 2002 | WebMemo on Taxes
It's tax season, and as you well know it takes more than a calculator and a pile of receipts to figure out what you owe under a tax code that takes up about 17,000 pages, is seven times longer than the Bible and comes with more than 700 different forms.
Here's a sampling of other developments in the tax policy arena:
The EU'S Tax Attack
You don't have to be an economist to know that when tax collectors from the European Union complain about "certain distortions of competition" and announce a need to "correct" it, a blueprint for higher taxes can't be far behind. This normally wouldn't concern most Americans, but notice who the EU has in its crosshairs this time: U.S. companies.
"EZ" Government Help
We must have an efficient government but a limited one. That means government must stick to those things that it alone is meant to do, from regulating interstate commerce to defending our borders. It may not be the "EZ" solution, but it's the right one.
Jokes about government inefficiency are such an ingrained feature of our national psyche that when White House officials say they're working to make government "more focused on citizens and results"-as they do in a new report, "E-Government Strategy"-it should be reason to applaud.
In December, the governor of Arkansas created the "Tax Me More Fund," so people who consider themselves undertaxed can donate more to the state government.
Even with the economic recovery underway, state lawmakers nationwide are finding it tough to balance their budgets. As a result, many have been lobbying for - you guessed it - higher taxes.
Tax Reform: Russia, 1; United States,
Eleven years ago, the Soviet Union was a communist dictatorship, an "evil empire," in the words of President Reagan. But today, the Cold War is a fading memory, and the nation that used to represent international socialism has junked its "progressive" income tax for a simple and fair 13 percent flat tax.
Who would have thought it -- that America would beat the Soviets to the moon, but Russia would become the first to adopt the ideal free-market tax system?
Cutting Taxes Faster Would Help
The bulk of President Bush's tax cut won't take effect until at least 2004. It is scheduled to disappear in 2011. The president may have been pushed into this deal politically last year, but it was a mistake. ...
Lower tax rates increase incentives to work, save and invest, and these rate reductions will provide a significant stimulus when they take effect. Consider the historical pattern. Cuts in tax rates during the 1960's and 1980's resulted in faster growth, rising incomes and more job creation.
"Do the Opposite" on Taxes
Economic growth drives the federal budget, not the other way around. While higher taxes are busy swelling the government's slice of the economic pie, they're also shrinking the size of the pie itself. The price of working, saving and investing goes up, and people find it harder to start, continue or expand a business. Soon they can't afford to hire the extra workers they had hoped to hire. Economic activity declines -- and, as a result, so do tax revenues.