In a press release Monday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) likened the U.S. tax code to Hydra, the "mythical Greek beast." While the complicated U.S. tax code is reminiscent of an ancient multi-headed water beast, Senator Baucus' suggested methods of slaying such beast will prove ineffective.
Senator Baucus' goals for tax reform suggest measures of increased spending and revenue. While in line with the tax reform measures of the Obama Administration, Baucus' means of achieving such goals run contrary to the budget proposed by the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. As stated in the Ryan Budget, "Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem."
By analyzing the reforms of Baucus, Obama and Ryan against the backdrop of the three Reagan Criteria for tax reform, it is evident the increased spending and revenue measures suggested by Baucus and Obama are not the logical solutions for tax reform in the U.S.
Singling out and imposing higher taxes on one group of taxpayers is contrary to any interpretation of fairness, and is not likely to make any substantial progress in reducing the deficit or raising revenue.
- Baucus' plan for reform alludes to a tax increase on the "top one percent of taxpayers" much like The Buffet Rule.
- The Obama Administration's Buffet Rule imposes a tax on families earning $1 million or more.
- In line with the criteria for fairness, the Ryan Budget focused instead on closing loopholes and deductions in order to promote fairness in the tax code, as opposed to increasing taxes.
The Baucus and Obama tax reform measures reflect a lack of efficiency, especially with regard to U.S. corporations. In Baucus' press release, he references the ever growing inadequacy of the U.S. tax system and its corporate income tax rates, which as Baucus states are "the highest statutory corporate tax rates in the world."
- Even so, Baucus' measures hinge on increasing "tougher rules against shifting profits" while ignoring the fact that the real reason the U.S. is losing corporate investment is the high tax rates imposed by the government.
- Additionally, the Obama Administration is seeking to impose taxes on the Medical Device Industry in 2013, further exacerbating the problem of companies shifting their operations abroad to countries with low corporate tax rates such as Japan.
- The Ryan Budget sets forth a transition to lower the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent and end the "double taxation" of corporate business profits to encourage domestic investment by multinational corporations.
The complexity of the U.S. tax code contributes to both its lack of fairness and inefficiency.
- Under Obama, the complexity of the U.S. tax code will be further increased in 2013 once the effects of Taxmageddon are felt, which will include a $4.5 trillion tax increase, the impact which would be felt instantaneously by U.S. workers.
- In addition to the complexities increased by Taxmageddon legislation is that the current "total cost of complying with the individual and corporate income tax amounts to over $160 billion per year."
- In order to increase efficiency of the U.S. tax code, the Ryan Budget seeks to consolidate the current six individual income tax brackets into just two lows brackets at just 10 and 25 percent, in addition to repealing the AMT.
As Senator Baucus stated in his press release Monday, the "need to overhaul the U.S. tax code seems obvious." Yet neither Senator Baucus nor President Obama seem to be on track with their proposed tax reform measures. In order to slay the mythical beast that has become the U.S. tax code, both Baucus and Obama should take note of the fairness, efficiency, and simplicity inherent in the Ryan Budget.