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Consumption taxes : macroeconomic effects and policy issues

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  • C. Alan Garner
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    Abstract

    Proposals for fundamental reform of the federal tax code are receiving increased attention in the business press and among economic analysts and policymakers. President Bush has identified tax reform as a top priority, calling for a tax system that is “pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all.” Moreover, the President has appointed a commission to consider different approaches to tax reform. One approach might be to improve the current income-based federal tax code, perhaps by broadening the tax base and lowering income-tax rates. However, another approach might be to replace current income taxes altogether with a consumption tax. Switching the federal tax system from an income tax to a consumption tax could have important macroeconomic effects. Most economists believe that switching to a consumption tax could increase saving and real output per person over the long run, although studies differ on the size of these effects. However, switching to a consumption tax might also require sizable short-run economic adjustments and create challenges for monetary policymakers. Garner analyzes the macroeconomic effects of replacing the current federal tax system with a consumption tax. First, he provides some background on the goals of tax reform and the basic difference between an income tax and a consumption tax. Next, he describes three widely discussed versions of a consumption tax: a national retail sales tax, a value-added tax, and a consumption-type flat tax. Finally, he examines the macroeconomic effects of adopting a consumption tax. All three proposals could raise U.S. output over the long run, but adopting a consumption tax could have sizable transition effects as well. These transition effects could vary depending on which consumption tax was adopted and how monetary policy responded to the reforms.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its journal Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): (2005)
    Issue (Month): Q II ()
    Pages: 5-29

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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2005:i:qii:p:5-29:n:v.90no.2

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    Keywords: Consumption (Economics) ; Taxation ; Tax reform;

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    1. David Altig, 2001. "Simulating Fundamental Tax Reform in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 574-595, June.
    2. John E. Golob, 1995. "How would tax reform affect financial markets?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 19-39.
    3. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
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