Taxation for the 21st Century: The Automated Payment Transaction (APT) Tax
This paper examines the desirability and feasibility of replacing the present system of personal and corporate income, sales, excise, capital gains, import and export duties, gift and estate taxes with a single comprehensive revenue neutral Automated Payment Transaction (APT) tax. In its simplest form, the APT tax consists of a flat tax levied on all transactions. The tax is automatically assessed and collected when transactions are settled through the electronic technology of the banking/ payments system. The APT tax introduces progressivity through the tax base since the volume of final payments includes exchanges of titles to property and is therefore more highly skewed than the conventional income or consumption tax base. The wealthy carry out a disproportionate share of total transactions and therefore bear a disproportionate burden of the tax despite its flat rate structure. The automated recording of all APT tax payments by firms and individuals creates a degree of transparency and perceived fairness that induces greater tax compliance. Also, the tax has lower administrative and compliance cost. Like all taxes, the APT tax creates new distortions whose costs must be weighted against the benefits obtained by replacing the current tax system. ---Edgar L. Feige
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