Structural Impediments to Tax Reform: The Environment as Case Study
38 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2013
Date Written: 2013
While the goal of any system of taxation is to be fair, however elusive the concept of fairness, there are two kinds of obstacles that impede or affect our ability to be fair. I categorize these two kinds of obstacles as those that resound in politics and those that are structural. This article deals with the structural aspects of how we go about taxing ourselves. The politics of taxation I leave for another day.
Because the United States Internal Revenue Code (the Code) is vast and complicated, I examine the structural problems of taxation in the single context of the Code — the environment — as the vehicle to evaluate the prospects for reform. This focus on a single area is undertaken with two underlying observations. First, the Code is necessarily complex. A focus on a single area is manageable and serves as a useful case study. Second, the problems we all face from a degraded environment allow for the possibility that attention will be paid. The paper will move from the general to the specific, first highlighting the strengths and the weaknesses of the Code, and second, highlighting structural problems that affect tax policy. The aim will be to guide legislators and policymakers toward a sane tax policy.
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