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New “Tax Oppression Index” Shows Grim Toll of OECD’s Statist Agenda

Back in 2009, I shared the results of a very helpful study by Pierre Bessard of Switzerland’s Liberal Institute (by the way, “liberal” in Europe means pro-market or “classical liberal“). Pierre ranked the then-30 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development based on their tax burdens, their quality of governance, and their […]

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Carbon Taxes: Worrisome in Theory, Bad in Reality

I don’t have strong views on global warming. Or climate change, or whatever it’s being called today. But I’ve generally been skeptical about government action for the simple reason that the people making the most noise are statists who would use any excuse to increase the size and power of government. To be blunt, I […]

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In One Story, Everything You Need to Know about France

What best symbolizes France’s statist political culture? Is it bloated public sector that consumes more than half of the economy’s output? Is it a tax system that is so onerous that households sometimes pay more than 100 percent of their income to government? Is it cossetted bureaucrats with cars and drivers who nonetheless still rack […]

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Greece and the Folly of Trying to Solve an Overspending Problem with Tax Increases

I’ve put forth lots of arguments against tax increases, mostly focusing on why higher tax rates will depress growth and encourage more government spending. Today, let’s look at a practical, real-world example. I wrote a column for The Hill looking at why Greece is a fiscal and economic train wreck. I have lots of interesting […]

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Is Putin Being Honest and Accurate about the Benefits of Russia’s Flat Tax?

I’m obviously a big fan of a simple and fair flat tax. In part, my support for fundamental reform is driven by my desire for a low rate, for no double taxation, and for the elimination of loopholes. Those are the economic reasons for reform. But I also am very much motivated by the moral […]

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Border-Adjustable Taxation, but Were Afraid (or too Bored) to Ask

House Republicans, as part of a generally laudable tax reform plan, want to replace the corporate income tax with a “destination-based cash-flow tax.” I’ve addressed that topic a couple of times. Left-leaning advocates like “destination-based” tax systems such as the DBCFT because such systems undermine tax competition and give politicians more ability to increase tax […]

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Exposing the Cronyist Argument for Carbon Taxes

In one of my periodic attempts to create themes for these columns, I developed a “fiscal fights with friends” category. Part I was a response to Riehan Salam’s well-meaning critique of the flat tax. Part II was a response to a good-but-timid fiscal plan from folks at AEI. Part III was a response to Jerry […]

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A Lower Corporate Tax Means More Growth and Higher Wages

Yesterday was “Australia Day,” which I gather for Aussies is sort of like the 4th of July for Americans. To belatedly celebrate for our friends Down Under, I suppose we could sing Waltzing Matilda. But since I’m a policy wonk with a special fondness for the nation, let’s instead acknowledge Australia Day by citing some […]

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New CBO Numbers and the Simple Formula for Good Fiscal Policy, Part II

Based on new 10-year fiscal estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, I wrote yesterday that balancing the budget actually is very simple with a modest bit of spending restraint. If lawmakers simply limit annual spending increases to 1 percent annually, the budget is balanced by 2022. If spending is allowed to grow by 2 percent […]

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The Class-Warfare Crowd (as Well as Donald Trump) Is Wrong on Carried Interest

Time for a boring and wonky discussion about taxes, capital formation, and growth. We’ll start with the uncontroversial proposition that saving and investment is a key driver of long-run growth. Simply stated, employees can produce more (and therefore earn more) when they work with better machines, equipment, and technology (i.e., the stock of capital). But […]

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Oxfam: A Leftist Joke, not a Real Charity

While my colleagues are stuck in the cold of Washington for inauguration week, I’m enjoying a few days in the Caribbean. More specifically, I’m sharing my views today on Trump and the global economy at the annual Business Outlook Conference in the British Virgin Islands. Yes, another example of the sacrifices I make in the […]

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Concerns about the”Border Adjustable” Tax Plan from the House GOP, Part III

In the world of tax policy, there’s an intense debate about the “border-adjustable” provision that is part of the tax plan put forth by House Republicans, which basically would tax imports and exempt revenues generated by exports. It’s a bit wonky, but the simplest explanation is that GOPers want to replace the current corporate income […]

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Tax Competition: A Necessary Liberalizing Process to Discipline the “Stationary Bandit” of Government

Mancur Olson (1932-1998) was a great economist who came up with a very useful analogy to help explain the behavior of many governments. He pointed out that a “roving bandit” has an incentive to maximize short-run plunder by stealing everything from victims (i.e. a 100 percent tax rate), whereas a “stationary bandit” has an incentive […]

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World’s Best-Ever Receipt and a Serious Lesson about Tax Visibility

I don’t often use the literary tactic of referring to something as the “best-ever.” Indeed, the only time that phrase appeared in the title of a column was back in 2014 when I smugly wrote about the collapse of government-run single-payer healthcare in Vermont. Recalling what Justice Brandeis wrote about states being the “laboratories of […]

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Concerns about the”Border Adjustable” Tax Plan from the House GOP, Part II

I wrote yesterday to praise the Better Way tax plan put forth by House Republicans, but I added a very important caveat: The “destination-based” nature of the revised corporate income tax could be a poison pill for reform. I listed five concerns about a so-called destination-based cash flow tax (DBCFT), most notably my concerns that […]

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Concerns about the”Border Adjustable” Tax Plan from the House GOP, Part I

The Republicans in the House of Representatives, led by Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Speaker Paul Ryan, have proposed a “Better Way” tax plan that has many very desirable features. Death tax repeal Depreciation replaced with expensing Corporate tax rate dropped to 20 percent No deduction for state and local taxes And there […]

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Hopes and Fears for Policy in 2017

Since yesterday’s column was a look back on the good and bad things of 2016, let’s now look forward and speculate about the good and bad things that may happen in 2017. I’m not pretending any of this is a forecast, particularly since economists have a miserable track record in that regard. Instead, the following […]

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The Flat Tax, Now More then Ever

On December 24, I wrote that all I wanted for Christmas is a spending cap. Alas, Santa did not manage to stuff that long-overdue policy down my chimney. But I’m not surprised. For years, the flat tax was on my Christmas list and that never happened either. I guess I must have been bad. Or […]

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Defending the World Bank

To be blunt, I don’t think the World Bank should exist. We don’t need an international bureaucracy to promote economic development in poor nations. Particularly since the policies that we know will work – free markets and small government – oftentimes are hindered by intervention from multilateral institutions such as the World Bank. For example, […]

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Decision Time in the South Pacific: Income Tax or Mitchell’s Golden Rule?

Can you identify the nation with the world’s 7th-friendliest tax system according to the Index of Economic Freedom? Don’t know the answer? Well, here’s a hint. If you don’t count Middle Eastern nations that finance their governments with oil money, this is the nation that is in second place, behind only the Bahamas. Still don’t […]

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