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by BWW News Desk
Despite their passion and fury, contemporary Americans are remarkably clueless about how their tax system works. "In a recent poll, a majority of Americans either think that Social Security tax and Medicare taxes are part of the federal income system or don't know whether they are or not. More than six out of ten think that low-income or middle-income people pay the highest percentage of their income in federal taxes. "Neither is correct," according to Len Burman and Joel Slemrod , authors of TAXES IN AMERICA (OUP).
With heated debates over taxation now roiling Congress and the nation, an understanding of our tax system is of vital importance. Burman and Slemrod offer a clear, concise explanation of how our tax system works, how it affects people and businesses, and how it might be improved. There are some dire predictions of what would happen if the tax increases and spending cuts went into effect. But they have done some research that suggests that might be overblown.
Most economists agree that in the long-term we need a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, because the long-term budget is so out of whack. But right now we're in a very delicate recovery and there is legitimate concern that substantially raising taxes and cutting spending can cancel the recovery or slow it down.
Burman and Slemrod challenge many common tax myths and ideologies. They explain leading reform proposals, and are available to discuss topics such as:
- Why is the fiscal outlook so dire?
- Is this the right time to think about raising taxes and cutting spending?
- Is progressive taxation class warfare?
- Is it true that half of households owe no income taxes?
- Do we tax capital income the same as labor income?
- How do we tax capital gains and dividends?
- What makes a tax system fair?
- Which is a better economic stimulus, cutting taxes or spending more?
- Why do smart, serious people disagree about optimal tax policy?
- Why not run deficits forever?
- What is the "starve the beast" theory?
- What are sensible tax reform ideas?
Author Joel Slemrod says "I think of it more as approaching a mountain, and there are good ways and bad ways to go up that mountain."