Taxpayers who make contributions to approved charitable organizations can deduct those contributions from their income before computing their tax liability. In fiscal year 2014, the deduction lowered taxes by $47 billion, with over 93 percent of the benefits going to tax filers under the individual income tax rather than the corporate tax. Most taxpayers would benefit from removing the deduction and lowering tax rates since most taxpayers do not use the deduction regularly. The only economic justification for the deduction would be to encourage donations to organizations that provide public goods or quasi-public goods. It is unclear, however, that the charitable deduction actually encourages private sector provision of these goods.
Betcha can’t eat just one.” The slogan of the bestselling potato chip brand was not just an advertising success—it also revealed a deeper behavioral economic insight. For some people, the current, acting person seems to lack the self-control we imagine the person will desire in the future. The fleeting pleasure of a salty, crunchy chip in the present outweighs the future desire to fit into a pair of skinny jeans. The trouble is not that consumers are overly impatient per se, rather that choices are inconsistent and desires change over time. A decision is made to eat a tasty chip today with the expectation that a diet will start tomorrow. But when tomorrow becomes today, another chip awaits and the diet is put off until another day.
We report on new data received from the Internal Revenue Service that sheds light on the changes in independent contracting. Our data support the claim that there has been an increase in nontraditional employment, but the data refute the idea that this increase is caused by the sharing-economy firms that have arisen since 2008. Instead, we view the rise of sharing-economy firms as a response to a stagnant traditional labor sector and a product of the growing independent workforce.
In an increasingly global economy, national governments are searching for ways to keep corporations from moving highly valuable intellectual property and associated economic activity to lower tax jurisdictions. In particular, governments are concerned with losing jobs, investment that fosters innovation, and the tax base attributable to income arising from intellectual property. One proposed solution is a patent box, also called an innovation box. A patent box lowers the rate of corporate income taxes paid on income originating from targeted intellectual property.
Over $2 trillion of US corporate profits have been systematically locked out of the US economy by an outdated tax system. One major symptom of the poorly designed worldwide corporate tax rules in the US is the rise of corporate inversions, where a domestic firm merges with a foreign firm and moves the new corporation’s headquarters abroad.
Taxpayers and policymakers alike are drawing attention to opaque tax practices at the local level. Recent evidence suggests that local officials have the incentive to raise extra revenue through less transparent means and are channeling this revenue into assets for future spending. States have an opportunity to make their tax structure more transparent by adjusting tax rates following property reassessments and making the calculation of their property taxes clearer.
This paper describes a series of questions and procedures to be followed by congressional staff in analyzing and preparing for a hearing on the budget of an agency. The items outlined in this paper are general principles and can be used to examine most agency budgets. For purposes of illustration, however, the paper uses the FDA, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as an example.
As gas prices have fallen throughout the country, in some states dipping below $2 per gallon, proposals to raise the tax on gasoline have become more politically palatable. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have proposed raising the tax to increase funding for America’s aging infrastructure. Before resorting to raising the tax burden on the American public, Congress should explore ways it can free up more money for highway projects by reducing the regulatory burden on federally funded highway projects.
While the federal government has taken the lead in implementing efforts toward greater transparency—for example, by creating the easy-to-access website Recovery.gov to enable visitors to track the spending of stimulus money —state and local governments are following suit by providing more online information about how they spend taxes. Proponents of increased transparency in the public sector, including elected officials and citizens, believe that transparency is an important tool for holding governments accountable and reducing corruption. In a period when trust in government has hit a record low (24 percent in 2014 and a record low of 19 percent in 2013), increased transparency is viewed as a way of promoting trust and cooperation between government and its citizens.
After briefly outlining the current cybersecurity information sharing proposals, we will examine the performance of the many similar programs that the federal government has operated for years. The government’s inability to properly implement previous information sharing systems even internally, along with its ongoing failures to secure its own information systems, casts doubt on the viability of proposed government-led information sharing initiatives to improve the nation’s cybersecurity. We will then examine the flawed assumptions that underlie information sharing advocacy before exploring solutions that can comprehensively address the nation’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Nate Silver, today’s most influential statistician and founder of the award-winning data website FiveThirtyEight, will join Tyler Cowen for a wide-ranging, intellectual dialogue as part of the Conversations with Tyler series.
History has shown that tax reforms seldom last when special interests have substantial incentives to lobby Congress for tax breaks. Making the tax code as simple—by taxing a broad base at the same low rate—and as transparent as possible will help reduce the ability and incentives to reverse future tax reforms.