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Ryan Ellis
Interests: Taxes, New England Patriots Football, Health Care Policy
Recent Activity
Speaking purely theoretically, you have three tax bases to look at here: Income (savings and consumption) is the worst base, since it leads to double- and triple-taxation of savings. Consumption (Income minus savings or the yield on savings) is the best base, since it only taxes savings once. Savings is the key to economic growth. Property taxes are bad because they never end. They happen again and again on the same thing. There's a justice issue here. All things considered, I would want a consumption base over either of the other two. The form of tax on that base should not be a VAT for prudential reasons.
In the U.S. system, property tax is the principal manner in which local government is funded. If you want to reduce property taxes here, you have to work on privatizing government (public) schools. That will take awhile. In the meantime, the growth of property taxes should be capped at inflation plus population growth, to be surpassed only by a two-thirds voter referendum.
Coming at this from an American perspective. I am Tax Policy Director at Grover Norquist's "Americans for Tax Reform." The negative income tax is an idea that goes back at least to Milton Friedman. It's a good idea provided there is a commensurate reduction in welfare payments. The VAT, though, has been a problem in Europe. Large and growing VATs have tended to correlate with large and growing government spending. In the early 1970s, VATs started in Europe. At the time, both taxes and spending were comparable with the U.S. Since then, the topline U.S. numbers are the same. But in Europe, the tax and spending aggregates shot up--by precisely the same size as the VAT grew.