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Tax Expenditures, the Size and Efficiency of Government, and Implications for Budget Reform

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  • Leonard E. Burman
  • Marvin Phaup
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    Abstract

    One possible explanation for the difficulty in controlling the budget is that a major component of spending —tax expenditures—receives privileged status. It is treated as tax cuts rather than spending. This paper explores the implications of that classification and illustrates how it can lead to higher taxes, larger government, and an inefficient mix of spending (too many tax expenditures). The paper then analyzes alternative budgeting approaches that would explicitly incorporate and measure tax expenditures. It concludes by analyzing ways to control tax expenditures (and other spending) and the special challenges presented by tax expenditures.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17268.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17268.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2011
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    Publication status: published as Tax Expenditures, the Size and Efficiency of Government, and Implications for Budget Reform , Leonard E. Burman, Marvin Phaup. in Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 26 , Brown. 2012
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17268

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    1. Deborah Lucas, 2010. "Measuring and Managing Federal Financial Risk," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number luca07-1, October.
    2. Leonard E. Burman & Christopher Geissler & Eric J. Toder, 2008. "How Big Are Total Individual Income Tax Expenditures, and Who Benefits from Them?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 79-83, May.
    3. David F. Bradford, 2001. "Reforming Budgetary Language," NBER Working Papers 8500, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sijbren Cnossen & Hans-Werner Sinn (ed.), 2003. "Public Finance and Public Policy in the New Century," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262033046, December.
    5. Davie, Bruce F., 1994. "Tax Expenditures in the Federal Excise Tax System," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(1), pages 39-62, March.
    6. Burman, Leonard E. & Rohaly, Jeffrey & Rosenberg, Joseph & Lim, Katherine C., 2010. "Catastrophic Budget Failure," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 63(3), pages 561-83, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Alex Laurin & William Robson, 2013. "Prudence and Opportunity: A Shadow Federal Budget for 2013," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 375, March.

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