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William Perez

A New Federal Tax Reform Panel

By June 6, 2009

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Obama has appointed Paul Volcker to head a panel that will make recommendations for reforming our nation's tax laws. Volcker is also the head of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

The advisory panel will consider ways to simplify the tax code and reduce tax evasion, and will make recommendations to the President by December 4th, 2009, according to a White House briefing.

The last time we had any serious consideration for tax reform was in 2005 when President Bush appointed a panel of advisors to come up with simplified tax systems. Those recommendations were never implemented. There is a strong suspicion that recommendations coming out of this new tax reform panel might not fare any better. Rosanne Altshuler, who worked as the chief economist on the 2005 panel, fears that Paul Volcker and his team might be too constrained,

"President Obama has said that no one making less than $250,000 could pay higher taxes under any new reform. That means ninety-five percent of taxpayers canít pay additional tax, even if it would result in a more efficient system, decrease inequities, or make their lives much simpler. At a time of monster deficits, that pretty much rules out any sensible reforms." Tax Reform 2.0 (TaxVox blog)
There's no sign of any Web site where we can see what's going on with this advisory panel. The Web site for the 2005 panel, located at www.taxreformpanel.gov, has been removed. Perhaps it will be resurrected for the new panel? I also hope the panel solicits recommendations from the public and holds meetings. This would gives all of us a chance to voice our ideas for tax reform.

More resources:

  • Presidential tax panel, take 2 (Don't Mess With Taxes)
  • Tax Policy and Reform Briefing Book (Tax Policy Center)
  • Profile of Paul Volcker (About.com)
  • Time For A Tax Reform (opinion, from Forbes.com)
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