Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tastes in Tax Policy

I confess that I like the broad outlines of the Gang of Six plan.  I don't have a problem with people like me having to wait longer to retire, so long as people who do physical labor get held harmless. 

It occurs to me that I care about substantial progressivity at the bottom of the income distribution (and I am a big fan of the Earned Income Tax Credit).  To calculate progressivity, one needs to take into account ALL taxes, including FICA and state and local taxes.  I also need to think about Mark Thoma's point about the progeressivity of both taxes and benefits--maybe Europe is onto something in using regressive or proportional consumption taxes to finance a strongly progressive safety net.  I suppose the question is whether getting progressiveness out of taxes or spending produces less dead-weight loss.

But once income reaches a certain threshold ($100K per year?), proportional taxes are just fine with me.  A reasonablly flat rate structure with an earned income tax credit, few deductions, and a large exemption would do the trick.


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