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Arnold C. Harberger

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.

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 CESifo Group.

The 2013 award winner is Professor Joel Slemrod.  Professor 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 Emmanuel Saez, 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 example).




1. Shouldn’t the tax code be simplified?
2. Why is the long-term fiscal outlook for the federal government so dire?
3. Will lowering taxes generate more revenue?
4. How can Apple get away with paying a corporate tax rate of less than 10 percent when the average American pays an income tax rate that is closer to 30 percent?
5. Why doesn’t Mitt Romney release 10 years of his income tax returns?
6. Why does Warren Buffet’s secretary pay a higher tax rate than he does?
7. What is the right level of taxation?
8. Would a value-added tax benefit us?


How much and how the rich should be taxed often plays a critical role in tax policy debates. It comes up with regard to incremental tax proposals, which are always scrutinized for how much benefit goes to high-income individuals. It also figures prominently in the debate about fundamental tax reform -- whether to abandon the income tax in favor of a value-added tax, retail sales tax, or flat tax; while it is generally agreed upon that any of these alternatives would reduce the tax burden on the rich, there is much less agreement about whether the economic benefits would be significant, and on how critical the reduction of tax progressivity is to the economic benefits these reforms promise. In his introductory chapter of Does Atlas Shrug: The Economic Consequences of Taxing the Rich, OTPR Director Joel Slemrod discusses the issue of income tax rates on affluent households.







The Office of Tax Policy Research, together with the University of Michigan Department of Economics, sponsors a seminar series featuring leading academic experts in taxation.  OTPR also sponsors a weekly brown-bag lunchtime seminar for information presentations of work in progress by Michigan faculty and students from the Ross School of Business, Department of Economics, Law School, and the School of Public Policy.


All sessions are held from
11:45am to 1pm
at the Ross School of Business, Room

September 16
Caroline Weber, University of Oregon
"International Fiscal Policy Coordination and GDP Comovement"
September 23
Josh Hyman, UM
"Long-run Local Government Responses to School Finance Reform and Effects on Educational Attainment"
September 30
Ugo Troiano, UM
"Ghost-house Busters: The Electoral Response to a Large Anti-tax-evasion Program"

Past Seminars

Winter 2013  Fall 2012   Winter 2012    Fall 2011    Winter 2011    Fall 2010    Winter 2010    Fall 2009      


Past Events


Ross School's OTPR Wows Conference with Outstanding Attendance

Once again, the Office of Tax Policy Research was very well represented at the November 2013 National Tax Association Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.  Our OTPR Annual Alumni Dinner attendance was 55, including current students, alumni, and guests!  To read what our students have to say about attending the conference and to view pictures,
please see our January, 2014 newsletter.

The Federal Income Tax at 100: How Did We Get Here and Where Do We Go Next?
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 on.
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 administration.

2012 Daniel M. Holland Award
For more information regarding Joel Slemrod's receipt of the Daniel M. Holland Award at the 2012 National Tax Association Annual Meeting, pictures, and the students' reflections on attending the NTA, please see the OTPR December 2012 newsletter. 
To view Slemrod's remarks (slides only), please click here.

Forty-nine OTPR-affiliated alumni, current students, and guests gathered to celebrate with Joel in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 15, 2012.


OTPR Host Two Forums
The Office of Tax Policy Research recently hosted two forums that provided commentary and discussion on tax policy and health care reform as they relate to the upcoming presidential election.  URLs for viewing both of these forums are found below each announcement.




David Albouy, Research Associate of the Office of Tax Policy Research, wins IIPF Peggy and Richard
Musgrave Prize for 2012

The International Institute of Public Finance created the "Peggy and Richard Musgrave Prize" in 2003 to honor and encourage younger scholars whose work meets the high standards of scientific quality, creativity and relevance that has been a mark of the Musgraves’ contribution to public finance. It is awarded annually, on the advice of the Chair of the Scientific Committee, to the author(s) of the best paper presented at the Congress. Authors need to be under 40 years of age. Professor Albouy’s paper is titled “Evaluating the Efficiency and Equity of Federal Fiscal Equalization.”

Read Paper


David Agrawal, University of Georgia (2012 graduate of the University of Michigan), wins IIPF Young Economists Award

The International Institute of Public Finance’s Young Economists Award was instituted in 2008, with the aim of encouraging young scholars who present their papers at the IIPF annual congress. A Prize Committee, headed by the Scientific Chair of the respective congress, selects those papers presented at the congress that stand out for their scientific quality, creativity and relevance, and chooses up to three of them to be distinguished with this award. Authors need to be under 40 years of age.

Read Paper


June 8-9, 2012
Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

On June 8-9, 2012, OTPR hosted the second Michigan Tax Invitational.  Papers were divided into these five categories: international, evasion and enforcement, state and local tax issues, rethinking received tax wisdom, and behavioral responses to taxation.  In all, 17 papers were presented and discussed.  Former Michigan PhD students from Universidad de Chile, Drexel University, Federal Reserve Board of Governers, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Williams College, University of Chicago, Northeastern University attended as well as current PhD students and Michigan Faculty.


The Office of Tax Policy Research recently hosted the 67th Annual Congress of the International Institute of Public Finance.  Over 350 people from 30 countries attended this 4-day event that included 5 Keynote Speakers, 75 sessions, and over 250 papers.

To the left is a group photo of conference participants at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

To view pictures of the Congress, please click here.

On the second day of the Congress, participants went on an excursion to the Henry Ford Museum and a strolling dinner at the Detroit Institute of Arts. To view pictures of the excursion, please click here.

Finally, the last night of the Congress featured a 5-course dinner and dancing. The festivities can be viewed by clicking here.



The Office of Tax Policy Research is proud to announce that our own Mary Ceccanese received the 2010 Candace Johnson Staff Award for Excellence, a University-wide award given by the Office of the Provost to an exemplary staff member.

We know Mary as OTPR’s Coordinator, which she has done with exceptional competence, energy, creativity and good cheer for 22 years. It is not at all an understatement to say that OTPR would not be OTPR without her. What you might not know is that, over this time, Mary has expanded her job to become a change agent and educator, in the university and beyond, about the importance of creating and sustaining connections between the staff and faculty, managers and staff, and various other employee groups. She actively participates in Voices of the Staff, a volunteer-based program offering U-M staff members an opportunity to share ideas and define the campus community issues that matter most to them. She also is involved in the design and delivery of training workshops, mentoring relationships with staff in a variety of units, and the development of original tools for creating positive workplaces. Four years ago, Mary initiated a task force at the Ross School called FAST Connections, which promotes high-quality relationships between faculty and staff.

We all congratulate Mary on this award and are delighted to see her receive this recognition.


May 21, 2010
Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

On May 21, 2010, OTPR hosted the first Michigan Tax Invitational.  Attendees included current UM Ph.D. students and former UM Ph.D. degree students affiliated with OTPR.  The workshop showcased ongoing and recently completed public economics research within a standard conference format with assigned discussants, and was a great opportunity to share current research and receive feedback.


June 21-25, 1999

OTPR, along with the Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance at UC-Berkeley and the Fund for Tax Research and John M. Olin Center of Law, Economics, and Business of Harvard Law School, sponsored a workshop in Berkeley, CA during the week of June 21-25, 1999.  This workshop provided an overview of the state of research in the economics and legal literatures on various aspects of international taxation and featured leading American academic tax specialists, including both economists and tax lawyers.  The purpose of the workshop was to stimulate research activity on international tax issues and to provide an opportunity for scholarly communication.