Meget mere "flat tax" II

Det er ikke kun Punditokrater, der kan lide "fladskat" (flat tax)Wall Street Journals politiske redaktør John Fund havde mandag en klumme med et "round-up" af nogle af de lande, der p.t. drøfter ideen.  Danmark er ærgerligt nok fraværende fra "trenden" i artiklen, desuagtet at det er lykkedes først og fremmest CEPOS på rekordtid at få emnet bragt højt på den danske politiske dagsorden.  Men måske WSJ's politiske redaktør ikke har stor tillid til, at det rent faktisk vil lykkes i Danmark?  Og hvem skulle kunne bebrejde ham det?

Hele pointen med klummen er i øvrigt, at fladskat-bølgen p.t. synes at gå udenom det nordamerikanske kontinent:

"Next month's report of the White House tax reform commission will likely stop short of advocating a complete scrapping of the tax code. But look for it to have warm words for how well the flat tax is promoting economic growth in the more than dozen places–ranging from Ukraine to Hong Kong–that have adopted variations of it.

It's about time the concept of taxing all income at a single rate, which presidential candidate Steve Forbes and then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey broached a decade ago, once again takes center stage. …

Here at home the flat tax is still routinely ridiculed. When Mr. Forbes floated the idea in 1995, President Clinton joked that Republicans were becoming "the party of flat-earthers and flat-taxers." But he has also told friends privately that he got a real scare during the 1992 primaries when Jerry Brown championed a flat tax. Mr. Brown won applause from audiences by pointing out that under our current system the rich will always be able to hire experts to lobby for tax loopholes and avoid the higher rate traps set for them.

That logic and the practical realization of it in country after country is winning adherents from all walks of life in the U.S. Donald Trump is full of praise for Mr. Forbes's new book, "Flat Tax Revolution." Actor Clint Eastwood praises a flat tax because it would mean "a little old lady on a home computer [could do] the work of all these thousands of bureaucrats and accountants." A variation on the flat-tax idea, junking the income tax in favor of a single-rate national sales tax is also gaining popularity. "The Fair Tax," a new book by Rep. John Linder and radio talk-show host Neal Boortz, is currently topping best-seller lists."

Som Fund pointerer, er ideen ikke bare ekstremt populær andre steder men også blevet implementeret eller på vej til at blive det:

"It's increasingly popular overseas, with Romania and the republic of Georgia adopting it last January. Greece is likely to introduce a 25% single rate for both corporate and personal income next month. If Poland's opposition parties win next month's elections they are likely to introduce a flat tax. In Italy, the Bruno Leoni Institute has just published an interview with former finance minister and current defense minister Antonio Martino detailing his support of the flat tax.

Even Germany, normally a center of intellectual stagnation when it comes to tax policy, has gotten the bug. Angela Merkel, the candidate of the conservative Christian Democrats in the Sept. 18 election, has appointed radical reformer Paul Kirchhof as her spokesman on taxes. While her party's manifesto falls far short of advocating Mr. Kirchhof's idea of a single rate of 25% for companies and individuals, she has stoutly defended his approach: "It's important that there is a man who wants to go further in principle and, when there is room for maneuver, says, now we can go the next step.""

Hvis de statsglade tyskere kan, hvorfor så ikke andre?  I Storbritannien har Gordon Brown argumenteret kraftigt imod en fladskat, som Adam Smith Institute og The Economist har ført på banen—men med den utilsigtede virkning, at det har givet idéen ekstra vind i sejlene:

"In Britain, die-hard opponents of the flat tax, such as Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, were caught censoring portions of an internal Treasury paper on the subject that was obtained under the recently effective Freedom of Information Act. The unexpurgated version, leaked to the Daily Telegraph, found that a flat tax would likely make Britain more attractive to foreign investors, eliminate economic distortions and create a "mini-economic boom." The paper noted that under flat-tax systems in other European countries the rich end up paying a larger share of total tax revenues. In flat-tax countries, taxpayers in the highest brackets move from consumption or tax-sheltered investments to more productive, taxable investments. Many higher earners work harder or take additional risks, rewarded by higher after-tax returns."

Og ifølge Fund er der måske et land yderligere, der er på vej med fladskat, nemlig Kina:

"If China adopted a flat tax, more than a quarter of the world's population would be filling out tax returns on the back of a postcard. That would leave them a lot of time and money to eat our economic lunch."

Update: Her er iøvrigt et link til Adam Smith Institute-bloggens dækning af emnet "flat tax", inkl. omtaler af CEPOS' konference om emnet tidligere på sommeren.

3 thoughts on “Meget mere "flat tax" II

  1. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard

    Som en follow-up på min post fra i går kan jeg tilføje, at den tidligere Republikanske Delaware-guvernør og præsidentkandidat Pete Du Pont i dagens Wall Street Journal har et længere forsvar for “flat tax” i USA (http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pdupont/?id=110007183). Her er et uddrag: Præsident Bushs rådgivende skatteudvalg er ved at se på nærmere på reform af det eksisterende skattesystem og”will surely conclude that America has an abysmal tax system. It is politically motivated; members of Congress amend the code to reward their friends and punish their enemies. And as every taxpayer knows, it is maddeningly complex, sometimes incomprehensible, time-consuming to comply with, and frustrating. Steve Forbes’s new book, “Flat Tax Revolution” (Regnery) defines the problem:The tax code has been amended 14,000 times and is 60% longer since Ronald Reagan’s presidency.The cost of compliance in terms of taxpayer time has risen 67% in the past decade and a half.Americans spend more than six billion man-hours each year filling out tax forms at a cost to the economy of $200 billion.So what should the president’s panel recommend? A tax code that will raise at least current revenues and is simpler and easier to comply with, demanding less cost, time and effort by all of us….There is a better solution, one advanced almost 10 years ago by the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform (of which I was a member): “a single, low tax rate with a generous personal exemption”–a flat tax.Under a flat income tax there would be one rate–Mr. Forbes recommends 17%, with a personal exemption of $13,000 per adult and $4,000 per child or dependant, along with a $1,000 per child tax credit. Thus a family of four would pay no federal income tax on its first $46,000 of income. There would be no double taxation of dividends, no capital gains taxes, death taxes, or taxes on Social Security benefits. The tax return would be simpler and easier to fill out: From your wages and salary subtract your personal and dependent exemptions and multiply the result by 17%. It would almost be a tax on a postcard, a huge improvement over the massive complexity of the Internal Revenue Code. (Corporate profits would be taxed at a flat 17% too.)So what would the impact of such a system be on Federal tax receipts? Very positive, because income tax rate reductions tend to raise income tax receipts. The Kennedy income tax cuts of the 1960s reduced top rates from 91% to 71% and boosted revenues by one-third, raising the four-year average annual tax revenue growth from 2.1% to 8.6%. The Reagan tax rate reductions of the 1980s saw tax revenue increase 56% over eight years.The reason for such increases in tax receipts is economic growth–lower tax rates mean higher economic growth, more investments, more jobs, greater incentive for people to work harder to earn more money, and thus the economy expands, which in turn means more government tax revenue. …Opponents of the flat tax say it would unduly help the rich. But a lower flat tax rate is joined with the elimination of deductions and loopholes; tax manipulation by the wealthy would vanish and all taxpayers would be playing by the same rules. Charitable giving would drop, critics say, but historical experience says that is not true either. Over the past 40 years tax rates have risen or fallen many times, but charitable giving has constantly risen. When people have more money, they contribute more money….A simple flat tax instead of the complex current IRS tax system would free up six billion hours a year of our time and many billions of our income dollars, which are currently expended complying with our tax laws, to spend working harder and investing more in our communities. Such a tax reform plan meets America’s goals: It is simple and understandable, applies to everyone, gets government the revenues it needs, and would end congressional manipulation of the tax system. Most important, America needs stronger economic growth, and the flat tax would help generate it.”Så er det sagt.

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  2. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard

    Yderligere follow-up til min egen: Torsdag var det Stephen Moore (tidl. fra Club for Growth), der i WSJ argumenterede for “flat tax”. Kommentaren er her:http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110007189, og dens fokus er USA og ideens mest fremtrædende amerikanske fortaler, Steve Forbes (der forsøgte sig som Republikansk præsidentkandidat i 1996 og 2000):”Mr. Forbes single-handedly thrust revolutionary ideas into the political headlights–ideas about health insurance and Social Security, for instance, but most famously about the tax code itself. The GOP establishment hated his message, but the conservative rank-and-file loved it. Mr. Forbes was suddenly the talk of the town. There he was, with his signature horn-rimmed glasses and geekish smile, plastered on the cover of Time magazine. And for a brief moment it appeared that he might even win the nomination and topple the Republican establishment.But then various deep-pocketed interest groups stirred themselves into action. In January 1996, for instance, the housing industry spent millions of dollars on TV and print ads explaining to New Hampshire voters that Mr. Forbes’s flat tax, by eliminating the mortgage-interest tax deduction, would destroy the value of their homes and send their tax bills through the ceiling. Not a word of it was true, but truth is often a casualty in political polemics. Mr. Forbes fell like an oak….As Mr. Forbes is fond of noting in “Flat Tax Revolution,” the idea he touted did take hold–just not in the U.S. Ten nations–most from the former Soviet Union, including Russia itself, with its 13% rate–have embraced a flat tax. And the economies of these countries are reaping their reward: They far outpace crusty Old Europe in GDP growth and job creation. China, Germany and Spain could be the next dominoes to fall.Mr. Forbes argues that international competition seems to be driving the flat-tax frenzy. “Countries increasingly recognize that if they don’t adopt the flat tax, they will lose jobs, capital and their own ambitious entrepreneurs to more growth friendly nations.” He shows that, in virtually all the countries with a flat tax, government coffers overflow with tax receipts. These real-life examples are obviously sweet vindication for Mr. Forbes, who has often been accused of self-interestedly trying to push down tax rates on wealthy families like his own while depleting the government of the revenues needed to pay the bills.Mr. Forbes takes a machete to such fallacious arguments. No, the government’s bills will not go unpaid: Revenues will equal what they are under the current system when faster economic growth is accounted for. No, the flat tax will not destroy home values–actually they will rise because the pro-savings flat tax lowers interest rates. No, hospitals and orphanages and the Salvation Army will not disappear with the elimination of the charitable tax deduction. Charitable giving is a function of disposable income, not the size of the tax write-off. And disposable income rises under a flat tax.No, the flat tax will not destroy the health-care system by eliminating the employer deduction for health insurance. In fact, a new system of health coverage would evolve under a flat-tax regime, a system that would “restore the connection between the health care provider and the consumer and thus get control of runaway health care costs.” It is precisely the employer-based health-care system–distorted into inefficiency and waste by the current tax structure–that has driven up doctor and hospital costs and made health insurance unaffordable to so many Americans.”

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