THE DECLINE (AND FALL?) OF THE INCOME TAX by Michael J. Graetz

THE DECLINE (AND FALL?) OF THE INCOME TAX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Angry taxpayers may be disappointed that Graetz (Law/Yale) does not jump on the anti-income-tax bandwagon, but they would do well to ponder his reservations about where taxation is headed. Discussions of tax policy have always attracted ideologues and the self-interested. In recent years, however, this tendency has become so strong that no idea is so unproven, no proposal so blatantly pandering to special interests that one cannot find economists and politicians willing to promote it as the certain route to an economic and social utopia. Against this background, Graetz's common sense (and the absence of hyperbole in his text) is a breath of fresh air. He eschews identification of a single answer for all tax ills, opting instead for a series of reasonable steps that would push tax policy toward widely held goals. His basic proposal for federal taxation involves adopting a value-added tax to accompany a refurbished income tax, with the VAT applicable only to incomes of $75,000 a year and up. This would achieve many of the goals of a consumption tax (such as encouraging saving), without embracing a wholesale shift of the tax burden from upper- to middle-income taxpayers. Readers with tax expertise will find little that is unfamiliar in this volume, but the anecdotes illustrating the sometimes ludicrous world of taxation in the US are wonderful; the climactic story about the regional planning commissioner and his Christmas hams is worth the price of the book. Not the sensationalistic diatribe you expect to see in April, and for that reason well worth reading.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-393-04061-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997