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The U.S. tax code is a total write-off. Crammed with loopholes and special interest provisions, it works for no one except tax lawyers, accountants, and huge corporations. Not for the first time, we have reached a breaking point. That happened in 1922, and again in 1954, and again in 1986. In other words, every thirty-two years. Which means that the next complete overhaul is due in 2018. But what should be in this new tax code? Can we make the U.S. tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient? Yes, yes, and yes. Can we cut tax rates and still bring in more revenue? Yes.
Other rich countries, from Estonia to New Zealand to the UK--advanced, high-tech, free-market democracies--have all devised tax regimes that are equitable, effective, and easy on the taxpayer. But the United States has languished. So byzantine are the current statutes that, by our government's own estimates, Americans spend six billion hours and $10 billion every year preparing and filing their taxes. In the Netherlands that task takes a mere fifteen minutes Successful American companies like Apple, Caterpillar, and Google effectively pay no tax at all in some instances because of loopholes that allow them to move profits offshore. Indeed, the dysfunctional tax system has become a major cause of economic inequality.
In A Fine Mess, T. R. Reid crisscrosses the globe in search of the exact solutions to these urgent problems. With an uncanny knack for making a complex subject not just accessible but gripping, he investigates what makes good taxation (no, that's not an oxymoron) and brings that knowledge home where it is needed most. Never talking down or reflexively siding with either wing of politics, T. R. Reid presses the case for sensible root-and-branch reforms with a companionable ebullience. This affects everyone. Doing our taxes will never be America's favorite pastime, but it can and should be so much easier and fairer.
- ISBN-13: 9781594205514
- ISBN-10: 1594205515
- Publisher: Penguin Press
- Publish Date: April 2017
- Page Count: 288
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-09
- Reviewer: Staff
Washington Post correspondent Reid (The Healing of America) examines taxation in countries around the world to find alternatives to the American system in this highly readable and informative book. In the U.S., Reid notes, paying taxes is more time-consuming and expensive than in many other countries. Insisting that we can make the tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient, Reid examines a number of options: flat versus progressive tax rates; wealth tax; value-added taxes. Simple charts easily show differences between countries. He also reviews taxation programs that governments use to change behaviortaxes on soft drinks, carbon emissions, and financial activities. Reid declares that the current U.S. corporate income tax system simply isnt working and that nearly every economist and political figure in America agrees... our tax code has to be reformed. He offers solid solutions and predicts the time for change has come. In fact, there have been big changes to the U.S. tax code every 32 years since the introduction of federal income tax in 1913. If that pattern repeats, Reid predicts, more sweeping changes will come in 2018. You heard it here first. (Apr.)