‘Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know’ a valuable primer to better understand tax debate
While the U.S.’s financial future may seem uncertain, the heated debate surrounding the “fiscal cliff” has made one thing clear: many Americans lack a basic understanding of how the U.S. tax system works. Those looking to brush up on tax policy need look no further than the new book by pre-eminent tax scholars Leonard E. Burman and Joel Slemrod, “Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know.” Burman, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Professor of Public Affairs at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and Slemrod, the Paul W. McCracken Collegiate Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan, have distilled their expertise into a concise guide that describes how our tax system works, how it affects people and businesses and how it might be improved.
Accessibly written and organized in a clear, question-and-answer format, the book illuminates the intricacies of the modern tax system in an easy-to-grasp, no-nonsense manner. Burman and Slemrod provide an entertaining, step-by-step tour of how today’s revenue system was created and address such questions as: How can we recognize Fool’s Gold tax reform plans? How much more tax could the IRS collect with better enforcement? How do tax burdens vary around the world? Why do corporations pay so little tax, even though they earn trillions of dollars every year? And what kind of tax system is most conducive to economic growth? Burman and Slemrod also challenge many common tax myths and ideologies and explain leading reform proposals that offer a means of elevating the national dialogue on taxation.
“The authors’ comprehensive yet comprehensible tour of the U.S. tax system will promote readers’ understanding of the taxes we pay and the policy choices we confront,” University of California, Berkeley, professor Alan J. Auerbach says of the book.
Burman was the cofounder and director of the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, and has held high-level positions in both the U.S. executive and legislative branches, serving as deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis at the U.S. Treasury from 1998-2000, and as senior analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He is an expert in public finance and modeling the effects of government policies on individuals’ and firms’ decisions. Burman is the author of “The Labyrinth of Capital Gains Tax Policy: A Guide for the Perplexed,” and numerous articles, studies and reports.