Recently, David Agrawal, an OTPR-Affiliated
2012 UM PhD who is currently an assistant professor at the University of
Georgia, had dinner with the well-known economist and UCLA professor,
Arnold C. Harberger. Professor Harberger is quite famously
known for "Harberger's Triangle," referring to deadweight loss occurring
in the trade of a good or service due to government intervention.
Professor Harberger's distinguished career has spanned more than 60
years writing and researching in the fields of public finance, economic
theory, international trade, economic development, and econometrics.
THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX AT 100:
HOW DID WE GET HERE AND WHERE SHOULD WE
A Forum of Tax Policy Experts and
Tax Policy Makers
This forum marked the 100th anniversary of the federal income tax and
brought together leading policy experts and policy makers to discuss the
motivation for tax reform and the pros and cons of the leading options
that have been proposed.
Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI), House Ways and Means Committee,
addresses the conference attendees while Professor Joel Slemrod looks
In holding this event on Capitol Hill
(at the Rayburn House Office Building) on Tuesday, September 10, we
engaged in constructive conversations with those members of Congress
actively involved in tax policy formation.
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), House Budget Committee, shares
remarks with conference attendees.
This event was a joint effort of the Office of Tax Policy Research, the
National Tax Association, and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
Our nonpartisan and nonprofit organizations do not promote any
particular tax program or policy, and are motivated by the enormous
public benefit that can come from sound tax policy and wise
Richard Musgrave Visiting Professorship
In 2008, the CESifo Group and the
International Institute of Public Finance (IIPF) established the Richard
Musgrave Visiting Professorship to honor the memory of one of Public
Finance's greatest scholars. This annual prize honors an
outstanding scholar in the area of Public Finance. With this award
the prize winner is also named a Distinguished CESifo Fellow. The
award winner is chosen through a formal selection process by the
President and Vice Presidents of IIPF together with the President of the
The 2013 award winner is Professor Joel
Slemrod has made vast contributions to research on all aspects of
taxation and tax policy. Based on his expertise, Professor Slemrod has
also served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the
Canadian Department of Finance, the New Zealand Department of Treasury,
the South African Ministry of Finance, the World Bank, and the OECD.
On April 11, 2013, as part of his visiting
professorship, he delivered the fifth Richard Musgrave Lecture on the
topic of "Insights
from a Tax-Systems Perspective."
The March, 2012 Journal
of Economic Literature article, "The Elasticity of Taxable Income
with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review, written by
Joel Slemrod, and Seth H. Giertz was recently cited in the 2013
Economic Report of the President. Chapter 3 highlights federal
income tax reform and cites page 4 of the JEL article to support
how "High tax rates, combined with a complex tax system and a narrow
base...provide incentives for taxpayers to...alter behavior in...ways to
reduce tax liability." For more information, see Slemrod's latest
book (co-authored with Leonard E. Burman) titled
Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know published by
Oxford University Press.
Also cited in the same chapter is an article written by James R.
Hines Jr., Hilary Hoynes, and Alan B. Krueger titled "Another Look
at Whether a Rising Tide Lifts All Boats" published in The Roaring
Nineties: Can Full Employment Be Sustained, edited by Alan B.
Krueger and Robert Solow, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001.
The ERP cites page 496 of this article as finding that "all components
of State and local government spending are procyclical, with capital
spending (on highways, parks, and recreation, for example) generally
more procyclical than current spending (on health and education, for
VIDEO FILES: ASK THE TAX PROFESSOR
Taxes are a
volatile subject in many conversations. Should one group pay more than
another? Why do corporations pay less in taxes than individuals do? Why
is the U.S. tax system so complex? In order to answer some of these
questions, OTPR is sponsoring a video series entitled “Ask the Tax
Professor.” In this series, Professor Joel Slemrod answers these and
many other tax questions that Americans are asking.
To learn more,
News & Events Page.
LESSONS ABOUT TAX REFORM FROM 1986
Everyone seems to
agree that it's a good idea to place tax reform at the heart of a
package of policies to stave off the fiscal cliff and address the
long-term fiscal imbalance. But what can it accomplish other than
raising revenue without raising tax rates? One set of lessons
comes from the consequences of the last major income tax reform in the
United States, the Tax Reform Act of 1986. In a survey article
published in the 1997 Journal of Economic Literature, Alan
Auerbach and Joel Slemrod investigated this issue. Read what they
LESSONS FOR TAX
POLICY IN THE GREAT RECESSION
makers struggle with identifying and enacting the appropriate
short-term policy response to the recent financial crisis and
economic downturn, both academics and policy makers are
examining the causes of the crisis and what lessons this might
bring to bear on longer-term policy. With near unanimity
attention to both the causes and appropriate long-term policy
response has focused on the financial sector, although fiscal
policy, including tax policy, has certainly figured prominently
in countries’ short-term policy response to the economic
contraction. In recent months, though, officials from two
international organizations, the IMF and the OECD, have produced
reports addressing what aspects of the tax system may have
helped cause or exacerbate the crisis, and whether tax policy
needs to be re-evaluated in light of the recent events. In this
article OTPR Director Joel Slemrod offers some speculations
about the lessons for tax policy, and the analysis of tax
policy, from the Great Recession. What did we get wrong? What
did we underestimate the importance of? What do we need to
think more about?