Thursday, May 5, 2011

Martin Feldstein says raise taxes, but not rates

While figuring out tax incidence-who actually bears the burden of the tax--is difficult, my guess is that his proposal, which would limit all deductions to two percent of adjusted gross income, would raise revenue, simplify the code, reduce deadweight losses (i.e., economic inefficiency), and produce a more progressive tax code.  It is the last of these that I am not sure about, but if we also raised the top rates to their Clinton-era levels, then one gets a more progressive code too.  I have seen no evidence that raising the top marginal rate from 35 to 39 percent would produce substantial deadweight loss.

I think such a proposal would need to be phased in--it would be a shock to lots of different markets, but I like the thinking behind it.