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Prospects for Consumption-Based Tax Reform in the United States


  • George Zodrow


It appears that the debate in the US regarding "fundamental tax reform", commonly defined as replacing the existing corporate and individual income tax system with some form of consumption-based taxation, is about to resume in earnest. At the current time, however, the chances for passage of such reform do not seem particularly great. This paper argues that, in addition to political reasons, doubts about the desirability of reform exist because several key economic issues raised by fundamental tax reform are not yet fully resolved. Specifically, before a compelling case for fundamental reform can be made, its advocates must address five key issues - uncertainty about the economic effects of fundamental tax reform, concern about its distributive effects, uncertainty about the simplicity gains that might be obtained with fundamental reform relative to those under incremental income tax reform, concerns about undesirable transitional effects of fundamental tax reform, and concerns about its unintended side-effects. This paper examines the current state of the debate on each of these five issues.

Suggested Citation

  • George Zodrow, 2002. "Prospects for Consumption-Based Tax Reform in the United States," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 59(2), pages 264-264, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(2002/200305)59:2_264:pfctri_2.0.tx_2-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wagener, Andreas, 2004. "On intergenerational risk sharing within social security schemes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 181-206, March.
    2. Homburg, Stefan, 2000. "Compulsory savings in the welfare state," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 233-239, August.
    3. Kiesewetter, Dirk & Niemann, Rainer, 2001. "Beiträge und Rentenzahlungen in einer entscheidungsneutralen Einkommensteuer
      [Contributions and pension payments in a decision-neutral income tax]
      ," MPRA Paper 27324, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Schnabel, Reinhold, 1998. "Rates of return of the German pay-as-you-go pension system," Papers 98-56, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael P. Devereux & Peter Birch Sørensen, 2006. "The Corporate Income Tax: international trends and options for fundamental reform," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 264, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    2. Peter Birch Sørensen, 2006. "Can Capital Income Taxes Survive? And Should They?," EPRU Working Paper Series 06-06, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General


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