Personal and Political Bias in the Debate Over Federal Income Taxation Rates and Progressivity
Recently, the Boston College Law Review published a symposium issue containing twelve articles on federal income taxation issues pertaining to rates, progressivity, and budget processes. These articles are well written, copiously researched, and representative of contemporary legal scholarship. For the most part, these articles variously support the idea that our federal taxation system is insufficiently progressive. Often this body of work attributes deleterious social effects to insufficient progressivity caused by tax cuts legislated in 2001 and 2003. Some of the symposium writing advocates for increased federal taxation on wealthy taxpayers without structural limitations beyond those that might be necessary to avoid unwanted effects that higher taxation might have on economic behavior. Effectively, most of the symposium scholarship seeks a direct political solution to the perceived problem of not taxing the wealthy as heavily as practicable.
Unlike the commentaries of flat tax proponents, this article will not attempt to dispel the notion of progressive taxation. Rather, this article will first question whether professors who write about tax policy can as a group reach unbiased conclusions about progressivity policy. Next, this article will address a few progressivity concepts that fuel taxation debates. Finally, this commentary will outline some ideas for structuring the federal income taxation system in ways that reduce political rancor and potentially create reasonable acceptance by tax producers, tax beneficiaries, and their respective advocates.
Richard Kovach, Personal and Political Bias in the Debate Over Federal Income Taxation Rates and Progressivity, 21 Akron Tax Journal 1 (2006).