Serious Tax Reform Is the Key to Restoring Economic Prosperity


In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump clarified his commitment to comprehensive tax reform with this sober truth: “we must restart the engine of the American economy – making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave...we must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.”

Reaction within the chamber was immediate and rousing. The reception in homes and corporate boardrooms across America must have been equally enthusiastic: In the more than 30 years since Congress last overhauled the tax code, U.S. businesses, both large and small, have been burdened by tax rates that are both too high—39 percent, combined state and federal—and totally out of step with our competitors around the globe, who enjoy a top average rate of 22.5 percent, which steadily has been on the downswing from a 2003 high of 30 percent.

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William F. Shughart II is Research Director and Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, and editor of the Independent Institute book, Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination.

  From William F. Shughart II
TAXING CHOICE: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination
So-called “sin taxes”—the taxing of certain products, like alcohol and tobacco, that are deemed to be “politically incorrect”—have long been a favorite way for politicians to fund programs benefiting special interest groups. But this concept has been applied to such “sinful” products as soft drinks, margarine, telephone calls, airline tickets, and even fishing gear. What is the true record of this selective, often punitive, approach to taxation?