Pethokoukis

Where next on tax reform?

Where was the Romney tax cut calculator? I mean, if you have a plan to cut individual marginal tax rates by 20%, your website should have an interactive calculator so a visitor can calculate their individual savings. But if Romney had one, I couldn’t find it.

Indeed, if you do an online search for “romney + tax + cut +calculator” what you find is a tax calculator on Barack Obama’s campaign web site showing you how much Romney would raise your taxes — at least as Team Obama figured it.

I suppose there was no Romney tax calculator because the campaign never made it clear who — if anyone — would get their taxes cut since a) the plan was supposed to be revenue neutral and b) the base broadeners weren’t specified.

Now maybe incomes would have increased as a result of higher economic growth from improved incentives, but as AEI’s Alex Brill and Alan Viard point out, “Work incentives depend on effective marginal tax rates rather than statutory tax rates, and revenue-neutral base broadening leaves the former roughly unchanged.” The more obvious pro-growth part of the Romney plan were the cuts to corporate tax rates and investment taxes.

The decline in marginal tax rates since the 1980s, along with the proliferation of tax breaks, calls out for a new approach to tax reform. Viard has produced an excellent plan for a progressive consumption tax. Another interesting idea is economist Bob Stein’s pro-family, pro-growth tax plan. More on both of them in the days to come.

6 thoughts on “Where next on tax reform?

  1. Since Romney’s plan was billed as revenue neutral and he promised cuts – then someone was going to have to pay more.

    that’s why there is no calculator.

    what the calculator would have to show is that for a given cut in the marginal rate – it would cost you on some portion of your itemized deductions.

    I never understood why people did not “get” this much less why they were fine with not knowing.

    I might have voted for him had he been honest about how he would actually cut marginal rates.

    in a revenue neutral scenario what would have happened is that a good number of people who got into the low thresholds of being able come out ahead by itemizing would no longer benefit and would have to take the non-itemized form.

    To say that this would be unpopular is an understatement but the GOP has consistently said that we do have a spending problem so in the end – Romney talked the talk but refused to walk the walk.

    you cannot win elections that way.

    I would posit that he may well have gotten Black and Hispanic votes had he actually followed through because many of them would have not been harmed by such a tax reform since they did not itemize anyhow.

  2. Exactly. “Revenue neutral tax reform” is a pointless phrase. The idea should always be a scheme to lower taxes over all. By using such useless buzz phrases, you merely perpetuate the mistaken idea that taxes = revenue. If you’re going to revamp taxes to keep “revenues” the same, you’re already losing. Lower taxes and regulations with an eye to increase revenue. Duh.

    • re: revenue-neutral tax reform – promotes growth and higher tax revenues.

      apparently, they presumed that the people who currently got refunds from tax breaks were not spending/investing it like the folks who would receive lower marginal rates – would.

      so basically you take money from those enjoying the loopholes and give it to everyone else as a lower marginal rate but if it’s revenue neutral – it’s also spending/investing neutral, right?

      unless you believe that the folks getting refunds from the lower marginal rate will spend it differently than those who had previously spent it from their tax loopholes refunds.

      it makes no sense what-so-ever but that didn’t keep Romney from making the claim nor all those supporters from critically examining his claim.

      I can only surmise that this was a ploy to get votes from those who are convinced by sound-bites.

  3. @citizenB – I read both links but you deduce from a statement about encouraging home ownership a linkage while what I provided to you was a statement of fact coming from actual data.

    Ever since the home mortgage deduction has been in effect, different players in the govt and private industry have advocated home ownership but they’ve been doing that for decades.

    what made it different this time?

    CRA applies ONLY to redlined neighborhoods not Florida condos, Ariz and Calif homes.

    why do you continue to believe that a statement encouraging home ownership means that CRA took loans outside of redlined neighborhoods like Florida, Calif, Arizona?

    why do you believe that?

  4. “I suppose there was no Romney tax calculator because the campaign never made it clear who — if anyone — would get their taxes cut since a) the plan was supposed to be revenue neutral and b) the base broadeners weren’t specified.”

    Now he admits it. Great Jim. Keep up the good work. We’re all counting on you.

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