Tax reform is hot this year, and rightly so. Mending an outdated tax system is an important political and policy objective. I am optimistic that Republican lawmakers will be successful, but no matter the scale or scope of this effort, it will not be the last big tax bill. Because tax reform is a perpetual effort, it is not too early to start considering post-tax-reform tax reform ideas.
As cigarette use decreases, it may be tempting to supplement declining tobacco tax revenues with a tax on e-cigarettes — a relatively new, less risky alternative to traditional cigarettes. Following actions by some European nations, the European Commission is now contemplating the proper tax treatment of e-cigarettes and has just finalised a public consultation on the topic. Taxing e-cigarettes would have a negative effect on nascent, but important, public health gains.
Talk last week about President Trump’s tax reform plan had two themes: The plan is too vague, and it is too costly. In other words, we don’t know what it is, but we know what it costs.
Despite Congress and President Trump needing to fill in many blanks, it is possible to analyze the economic effects of the elements that have been announced. And it is worthwhile to compare these effects to both current law and the more detailed House Republican tax plan.
The New York Times, Runner’s World, and a host of other media outlets recently hyped a new study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases on the benefits of running. The study asserts that running, if performed regularly, leads to 3.2 additional years of life.
With tax reform hopefully next on the GOP’s agenda, it is important for lawmakers to think about its revenue effects in a sensible way: focus on the long-run budget impact, not the 10-year horizon embedded in congressional rules.
While the UK is generally regarded as having a larger military and is certainly understood to have a larger economy from which to finance its military, its advantage on at least some common sense metrics is modest and its demands greater; the UK has more geopolitical interests around the globe to defend. Spain, on the other hand, while somewhat less equipped would have a proximity advantage in any armed conflict over Gibraltar. In short, the winner from such a hypothetical encounter is far from obvious to a casual observer.
Pundits have posited every imaginable reason for the failure of the GOP to get their health care reform bill through the first big hurdle: passage on the House floor. As we all know too well, Speaker Ryan pulled the bill just minutes before a vote was scheduled, when it was absolutely clear that a majority of support could not be reached. But would success have ushered in a new health care paradigm? I doubt it.
If the House Republican plan for a border adjustment tax were adopted, many large U.S. multinationals and others net exporters would receive more tax subsidy on their exports than tax owed on their other business activities. Without refundable credits, a 20% border adjustment tax would actually yield $260 billion in revenue beyond the expected $1 trillion.
President Trump’s proposal to cap itemized deductions would cause a drop in charitable giving. For those giving above the cap, the net cost would jump from $0.60 per $1 of giving to an unsubsidized $1 per $1 of giving. Because a 1% increase in the price yields a 1% drop in giving, $17.6 billion in annual giving could evaporate.
Hillary Clinton wants to double the child tax credit for children under 5 and increase the refundability of the credit for more low-income households. Her proposal will further exacerbate the tax disparity between childless households and families with young children. And, by adding substantially to the federal deficit, the policy will shift the cost of raising today’s children onto future generations.