- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press (December 31, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226555615
- ISBN-13: 978-0226555614
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,476,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fair Not Flat: How to Make the Tax System Better and Simpler
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From Library Journal
Tax-law expert McCaffery is a professor of law at the University of Southern California (USC) and director of the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics. In this articulate follow-up to Taxing Women, he provides an accessible and effective analysis of the present federal income tax and estate- and gift-tax systems and proposes an innovative approach that would replace both with a consistent progressive consumption tax. The author asserts that this proposal could simplify the system, reduce the negative impact of politicians and special interest groups, and make taxation fairer in general. This simple book covers a wide array of topics, ranging from the history of the U.S. tax system to the problems associated with previous tax reform initiatives, including the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and present discussions regarding implementation of a flat tax. A glossary, a list of further readings, and examples drawn from recent popular works (e.g., Robert T. Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad) enhance the text. Provocative and persuasively argued, this book is recommended for both academic and public libraries. Norm Hutcherson, California State Univ., Bakersfield
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Ed McCaffery is brilliant. He is very knowledgeable about our tax code and he speaks English. His new book takes on the flat-tax advocates by showing that our system can be both fair and simple." - Pat Schroeder; "Ed McCaffery pumps more logic into this one book than most do in a lifetime of writing. If you want to correct the foibles of our present tax system, Fair Not Flat is the one essential book you must read." - Bob Packwood --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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It is easy to make a case against the current system; it is very problematic on a number of grounds because it is not use a true income base. However, McCaffery never compares his proposal with a more comprehensive income approach. This is perhaps forgiveable given that his aim is to show that his proposal is better than the status quo. But if this is his aim, he also needs to show that the Fair Not Flat Tax is also better than rival proposals.
We can draw out McCaffery's dismissal of a true income tax. He seems to think that there is no need to tax people's receipt of wealth, as long as they keep it invested. The idea here is that the person does not benefit from the wealth until they spend it. However, this is patently false. If Jon obtains a fortune and invest it while Ed does not, then Jon can earn additional income over time while Ed does not. Jon and Ed may spend the same amount of money, and therefore pay the same tax, but Ed has to work very hard all his life while Jon lives a life of leisure. There are clearly class issues here, which McCaffery entirely ignores. McCaffery seems to be happy with a society in which there are distinct working and leisure classes. He seems to take an intergenerational view of property which strikes me as relatively feudal in its implications. He rightly points out that the current tax system does nothing to stop this problem, but a strong and consistent lifetime comprehensive income tax (such as that proposed by William Vickrey) would do just that.
McCaffery is happy to talk about rewards going to those who do the best thing by their society, but I don't see how a system which provides no incentives for some individuals to do any productive work is in any way appealing. In short, while his attempts to be non-partisan are laudable, I don't think its as easy to take politics out of taxation. I find his moral appeals to be very weak. Some people want a society in which contains haves and have nots so that some people have an incentive to invest while others are forced to work. Others take a more egalitarian line, thinking that all individuals in society should face a similar outlook no matter who their parents and grandparents were.
It's a tax on consumption that is not flat like a sales tax. Every year you would fill out a form as you do now. Poor and many middle class people spend all they earn so they would end out much as now. Rich come in two types,
(1) those who luxuriate and (2) those who build businesses (and jobs!). They would come out very differently!
The idea is that you spend what you earn plus what you borrow minus what you save. Financial institutions would report borrowing and saving on forms like W-2 so you would compute your consumption from that plus earnings.
He wasn't very clear (anyway, I wasn't) about the example of buying a house. I believe on a $270,000 house you would be effectively spending $10,000/year for 27 years and this expenditure could be taxed at a progressive rate. There would be no capital gains taxes (because they are mostly inflation taxes).
The Fair Tax is not a flat tax rate...The Fair Tax starts with abolishing the IRS and replacing all taxes with a progressive version of a national sales tax. Everybody pays after a pre-bate refund to cover basic poverty level spending tax.
Everyone (rich people, drug dealers, illegal aliens, you, and me) pays when buying new products. The Fair Tax even funds Social Security!
Read the book. Then read "The Fair Tax Book" by Neal Boortz. Then surf to FairTax.org for more information & the latest updates on which congresspeople & Senators support the bill. Call your politicians, regardless of their party affiliation. Tell your elected officials to support HR25 or SB25 and force a vote on it. Demand action! After all, they "work for us".