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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Describes the large burdens imposed by the federal tax code that come in addition to the actual taxes paid to the IRS.
Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of
Big Government by Stephen Slivinski (Nelson
Decribes how the new Republican majority came to “love the smell of marble” and became the party of Washington instead of the party of budget cutting.
the Federal Government by Chris Edwards (2005)
Thoroughly reviews federal spending outside of defense and entitlement programs and proposes to eliminate $300 billion worth of programs by terminating them, privatizing them, or transferring them to the state or local level.For the related study, see Policy Analysis no. 515
- “Supply-Side Tax Cuts and the
Truth About the Reagan Economic Record” by
William A. Niskanen and Stephen Moore (Policy Analysis no. 261,
October 22, 1996)
Examines the effects of President Reagan’s tax cuts on the economic growth and challenge false conceptions some have about Reagan’s economic policies.
Reaganomics: An Insider’s Account of the Policies and the
People by William A. Niskanen (Oxford University
Describes the administration’s internal debates and the effects of Reagan’s policies on the economy. The book is a wide-ranging survey covering the federal budget, taxes, regulation, trade, and monetary policy.
The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution
Failed by David Stockman (Harper & Row, 1986)
Provides a detailed play-by-play of budget politics in the first years of the Reagan administration by Reagan’s first budget chief.
- “The Return
of the Living Dead: Federal Programs That Survived the Republican
Revolution” by Stephen Moore and Stephen
Slivinski (Policy Analysis no. 375, July 24, 2000)
Takes a detailed look at long list of programs that the GOP identified for termination when they came into office in the mid-1990s and finds that few have been ended.
Corporate Welfare Budget: Bigger Than Ever” by
Stephen Slivinski (Policy Analysis No. 415, October 10, 2001)
Describes the Bush administration and the Republican Congress’s tepid attempts at welfare reform, and chronicles the high cost taxpayers pay for expansive government aid to for-profit businesses.