Technology and Taxes

Technology and Taxes

Tax scholars debated policy issues affecting technology and innovation at the National Tax Association’s Spring Symposium May 13 and 14.

Among the presentations, Peter Merrill of PricewaterhouseCoopers argued that to alleviate economic distortions the U.S. should reduce corporate taxes and place less reliance on the taxation of worldwide income.  Merrill emphasized the growing importance of intangible assets. Harvey Rosen of Princeton University and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers said economists widely agree that a value added tax is equivalent to a tax on wages. Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, argued that the President’s policies would improve the long-term budget outlook once they addressed the immediate problems of strengthening job growth.

Janet Holtzblatt explained tax and health models behind Congressional Budget Office estimates of health reform and Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute analyzed the merits of alternative subsidy schemes for health insurance. Antos argued, contrary to many analysts who believe they are equivalent, that limiting the tax exclusion for health insurance would increase tax progressivity while the “Cadillac tax” enacted in health reform is regressive.

Joseph Bankman of Stanford University advocated that the IRS use technology to simplify tax filing and reduce taxpayers’ burdens by providing pre-prepared returns with information it already has. Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, recommended that Congress require the IRS to study the proposal’s resource and feasibility implications, noting IRS administrative constraints and the need to move up deadlines for third-party information filing.  See TPI’s event “The Boundaries of Government in a Digital Age: Should the Government Prepare Personal Tax Returns?” and stay tuned for a forthcoming paper on this topic.

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