Mankiw, N. Gregory, “One Way to Fix the Corporate Tax: Repeal It,” The New York Times, 08/23/14

“Perhaps the boldest and best response to corporate inversions is to completely rethink the basis of corporate taxation. The first step is to acknowledge that corporations are more like tax collectors than taxpayers. The burden of the corporate tax is ultimately borne by people — some combination of the companies’ employees, customers and shareholders. After recognizing that corporations are mere conduits, we can focus more directly on the people.

A long tradition in political philosophy and economics, dating back about four centuries to Thomas Hobbes, suggests that the amount that a person consumes is the right basis for taxation. A broad-based consumption tax asks a person to contribute to support the government according to how much of the economy’s output of goods and services he or she enjoys. It doesn’t matter whether the resources for that consumption come from wages, interest, rent, dividends, capital gains or inheritance.

So here’s a proposal: Let’s repeal the corporate income tax entirely, and scale back the personal income tax as well. We can replace them with a broad-based tax on consumption. The consumption tax could take the form of a value-added tax, which in other countries has proved to be a remarkably efficient way to raise government revenue.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/upshot/one-way-to-fix-the-corporate-tax-repeal-it.html?emc=eta1&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

Forbes: Tax Reform to End Inversions & Grow Economy/Jobs

 

There is a bold but promising solution to end corporate tax avoidance schemes including inversions: sweeping tax reform, replacing the corporate income tax with a clean consumption tax with zero exceptions.

Forbes Op/Ed by Steve Abramson, VATinfo.org

 

 

Porter, Eduardo, “A Tax Code of Politics, Not Practicality,” NYTimes.com, 04/10/2012

“Our byzantine tax code is built upon a longstanding political deal: Democrats wanted a tax scale with higher rates for richer Americans to finance social programs aimed at the poor and the middle class. Republicans countered by pushing for tax exceptions, exclusions and deductions that shielded the incomes of the rich from the taxman and reduced government revenue.

This compromise has left us with a loophole-riddled code that isn’t very good at raising money. The richest 1 percent of Americans, who make $1.5 million on average, pay 28 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That’s way below the top rate of 35 percent. The rest of us also pay little. The bottom 85 percent of taxpayers have an average federal tax rate of 12 percent. The poorest 25 percent pay less than 1 percent of their income — $77 a family, on average.

Compared to other developed countries, the United States doesn’t collect much tax at all. Tax revenue at all levels of government adds up to less than 25 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, putting us behind every other rich country and even some poor ones. Among the 34 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only Mexico and Chile collect less in taxes. The average across the O.E.C.D. is 9 percentage points higher.”…

“…(F)ederal tax revenue has not surpassed 21 percent of the nation’s output. Last year it was under 15 percent. Not only is our tax code bad at raising money, it is also plagued with perverse incentives that, added up across the population, can push us to distort the economy and slow it down”….

“ …What would a better tax system look like? Most other rich countries have one. While each country has a different version, they share a core feature: they raise a lot of money taxing people’s consumption, at the point of sale.

Consumption taxes create fewer perverse incentives because taxing what people buy doesn’t affect their choices about work and investment. If anything, such a system might promote savings, generally good for growth. These taxes are also easy to collect and hard to evade. They don’t add complexity to your tax return. Because they produce few perverse incentives, they can be used to raise a lot of money.

Consumption taxes are supported by a vast majority of economists. They underpin Western Europe’s welfare systems, which are based on the proposition that all citizens are entitled to similar income support and services to guarantee a minimum standard of living, and that everybody should pay proportionately for them. Denmark and Sweden collect about 10 percent of their gross domestic product with a value-added tax, a modern tax on consumption.

In the United States, by contrast, states raise only 2.2 percent of G.D.P. through various sales taxes.  There is no federal consumption tax at all.

A federal consumption tax has been proposed more than once. A report last year by the Congressional Research Service found that for every 1 percent levied in a value-added tax, the federal government would raise up to $55 billion a year. This new source of money could help change the political deal underpinning our tax system and pave the way to cull loopholes and reduce our top tax rates.”

 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/business/economy/a-tax-code-of-politics-not-practicality.html

Burman, Leonard E., “Tax Reform to Encourage Growth, Reduce the Deficit, Promote Fairness,” Senate Budget Committee Hearing, 03/01/12

Dr. Leonard E. Burman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Professor of Public Affairs, Maxwell School of Syracuse University

“As noted, the BPC proposed to introduce a small VAT in the U.S. The advantage of a VAT is that it does not tax saving and is thus thought to be more conducive to economic growth than the income tax.  The tax has never gained traction in the U.S. because conservatives are concerned that it would fuel more growth in government and liberals worry that it is regressive. To address the first concern, I have suggested that a VAT be earmarked to pay for government’s health care costs. I believe this would actually help to constrain spending since, for the first time, consumers would see a connection between their health benefits and their tax bill.  If health care costs continue to grow faster than the economy, the VAT rate will rise, which taxpayers would dislike.  This could build support for sensible measures to constrain government health care spending.

The regressivity of a VAT may be offset by refundable tax credits designed to match the typical VAT levied on a family at the poverty line. This is similar to, although much smaller than, the “prebate” proposed as part of the national retail sales tax (or “FairTax”).”

http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/index.cfm/committeehearings?ContentRecord_id=553aa480-29a4-44b4-8b3f-9fc8004f4e81&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=d68d31c2-2e75-49fb-a03a-be915cb4550b

 

Hollings, Sen. Fritz, “Shameful Conduct,” HuffingtonPost.com, 10/05/11

“I don’t know what the demonstrators want Wall Street to do, open earlier; cut the price of stocks? Demonstrators mistake result for cause. Business doesn’t create the business climate or economy. Government does. Business takes advantage of the business climate that the U.S. government has developed. Capitalism has a tendency to monopolize.

That’s why government institutes anti-trust laws and restrictions to keep the market open. But an open market doesn’t mean a free market. In globalization, with China setting the competition, the market is definitely not free. Corporate America shouts “free trade” but creates jobs and develops the most closed market in China…”

“…The first order for government is to take the tax benefit for corporate America to off-shore jobs and give it to corporate America to on-shore jobs — cancel the corporate tax and replace it with a 6 percent value added tax. Last year’s corporate tax produced $194.1 billion, whereas a 6 percent VAT for 2010 produces $700 billion in revenues. Exemptions for the poor leaves billions to pay down the debt.

With no loopholes, a VAT produces instant tax reform, which puts the tax lobbyists out of business. The VAT replacement releases $1.2 trillion in off-shore profits for corporate America to create jobs in the United States. The VAT is like a sales tax, but not on the sales price — only on the value added or seller’s mark-up…”

“…Wall Street, the big banks, and corporate America are happy for Congress to do nothing. They oppose the enforcement of trade laws; oppose a VAT because it increases the cost of imports, and oppose the repeal of the subsidy to off-shore jobs. Wall Street, the big banks, and corporate America are the biggest contributors to the president and Congress. So the president refuses to enforce our trade laws. The president and Congress oppose the VAT solution even though they are for tax cuts; and they oppose repeal of the subsidy to off-shore profits.

Replacing the corporate tax with a 6 percent VAT would make it profitable for corporate America to produce and create jobs in the United States…”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-ernest-frederick-hollings/value-added-tax_b_996626.html

Barro, Robert J., “How to Really Save the Economy,” New York Times, 09/11/11

“I received vigorous criticism from conservatives after advocating a VAT in an essay in The Wall Street Journal last month. The main objection — reminiscent of the complaints about income-tax withholding, which was introduced in the United States in 1943 — is that a VAT would be a money machine, allowing the government to readily grow larger. For example, the availability of easy VAT revenue in Western Europe, where rates reach as high as 25 percent, has supported the vast increase in the welfare state there since World War II. I share these concerns and, therefore, favor a VAT only if it is part of a package that includes other sensible reforms. But given the likely path of government spending on health care and Social Security, I see no reasonable alternative.

Abolishing the corporate income tax is similarly controversial. Any tax on capital income distorts decisions on saving and investment. Moreover, the inefficiency is magnified here because of double taxation: the income is taxed when corporations make profits and again when owners receive dividends or capital gains. If we want to tax capital income, a preferred method treats corporate profits as accruing to owners when profits arise and then taxes this income only once — whether it is paid out as dividends or retained by companies.

Liberals love the idea of a levy on evil corporations, but taxes on corporate profits in fact make up only a small part of federal revenue, compared to the two main sources: the individual income tax and payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

In 2009-10, taxes on corporate profits averaged 1.4 percent of G.D.P. and 8.6 percent of total federal receipts. Even from 2000 to 2008, when corporations were more profitable, these taxes averaged only 1.9 percent of G.D.P. and 10.3 percent of federal receipts. If we could get past the political fallout, we could get more revenue and improve economic efficiency by abolishing the corporate income tax and relying instead on a VAT.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/opinion/sunday/how-to-really-save-the-economy.html?pagewanted=1&tntemail0=y&_r=1&emc=tnt