The Rocky Road to Tax Reform

Henry J. Aaron,
Henry J. Aaron The Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Chair, Senior Fellow Emeritus - Economic Studies

James Sly, and William G. Gale
William G. Gale The Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy, Senior Fellow - Economic Studies, Co-Director - Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

December 1, 1999

From the Boston Tea Party through recent revelations of Internal Revenue Service abuses, paying taxes has aroused public passions in the United States. Every president in the past four decades has proposed significant tax changes, and successive Congresses have enacted many tax bills, major and minor. Seemingly endless tinkering has not, alas, bred satisfaction. Almost everyone concurs that the tax system could be improved. But agreement on the nature and severity of the problems and how to resolve them remains elusive.