Fiscal Policy

A Fiscal Policy Reading List

Prepared by Chris Edwards


  • For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization by Charles Adams (Madison Books, 1993)
    Puts taxation at the center of many important events in history stretching from the time of the classical Greeks to Hong Kong’s low‐​tax high‐​growth economy of the 20th century.
  • Those Dirty Rotten Taxes: The Tax Revolts That Built America by Charles Adams (Free Press, 1998)
    Looks at taxation in U.S. history, including 1776, the Whiskey Rebellion, the establishment of the income tax, and recent efforts at federal tax reform.
  • An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (University of Chicago Press, 1976)
    Describes general principles for a good tax system, discusses the effects of different taxes, argues that taxes on business profits ultimately fall on individuals, and explains why taxes cost the economy more than the dollar amount collected by the government. A challenging read.
  • Untangling the Income Tax by David Bradford (Harvard University Press, 1999)
    Argues that consumption‐​based taxes are not just more efficient than income taxes, they far simpler and more transparent.
  • “Simplifying Federal Taxes: The Advantages of Consumption‐​Based Taxation” by Chris Edwards (Policy Analysis no. 416, October 17, 2001)
    Explains why complexity is intrinsic to income taxation, and advocates replacing the income tax with a consumption‐​based tax.
  • “International Tax Competition: A 21st‐​Century Restraint on Government” by Chris Edwards and Veronique de Rugy (Policy Analysis no. 431, April 12, 2002)
    Shows how competition for capital has created pressure on governments to reduce marginal tax rates.
  • “Replacing the Scandal‐​Plagued Corporate Income Tax with a Cash‐​Flow Tax” by Chris Edwards (Policy Analysis no. 484, August 14, 2003)
    Explains why the corporate income is so complex and inefficient, examines repealing it or replacing it with a “cash‐​flow” tax, and argues that Enron‐​style scandals would be much less likely under a reformed tax system.
  • “Options for Tax Reform” by Chris Edwards (Policy Analysis no. 536, February 24, 2005)
    Decribes in detail the pros and cons of the flat tax and national retail sales tax. It also proposes a possible compromise reform called a “dual‐​rate income tax” that would radically simplify the current tax system.
  • The Flat Tax by Robert Hall and Alvin Rabushka (Hoover Institution Press, 2nd edition, 1995)
    Hall and Rabushka introduced their flat tax proposal in 1981, and it has remained a leading reform model for replacing the income tax with a much simpler and more efficient federal tax structure.
  • Costly Returns: The Burdens of the U.S. Tax System by James Payne (Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1993)
    Describes the large burdens imposed by the federal tax code that come in addition to the actual taxes paid to the IRS.

Federal Budget