Economics of Social Issues Study Set 2

Business

Quiz 14 :

Government Spending, Taxing, and the National Debt: Who Wins and Who Loses

Quiz 14 :

Government Spending, Taxing, and the National Debt: Who Wins and Who Loses

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Use the information provided in Table 14.3 to discuss the distribution of the federal tax burden on households in the United States. Table 14.3 TABLE 14.3 Effective Federal Tax Rates by Income Category Source: Effective Current Tax Rates under Current Law, 2001 to 2014 , Congressional Budget Office, 2004. img
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The effective amount of taxes paid by each category of income is explained by the following chart.
img This chart shows the percentage of income that is paid on average by members of each income group. The chart shows the impact of the progressive tax system with brackets, with the tax rate increasing along with income. This type of tax structure follows the principle of vertical equity , which states that individuals in different economic conditions should have different tax burdens based on ability to pay. At the same time, there are no severe jumps in the effective tax rate between one income group and the next; the increases are mostly steady. Thus, at the same time that there is a substantial differential between the highest income group and the lowest income group, the amount of increase for the highest earners is relatively small, compared to the nominal rates for the top tax brackets in the past. For example, before 1986 the top income bracket had a tax rate of 50%.
The difference between the yearS₂004 and 2014 also show that the tax rates have increased for each group, but the increases have been larger for the lower income groups than the higher groups. While, overall, the pattern has not been changed very much from the 2004 levels, it might be compared against the tax brackets from before 1986 which had the lowest income group with a rate of 0%. If the trend toward "flattening" of the distribution continues in the long run, the principle of vertical equity also would be gradually abandoned.

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Discuss the meaning of tax equity and tax efficiency. Design a federal income tax system based on the two tax criteria of equity and efficiency.
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Tax efficiency refers to the amount of effort required for administering taxes and ensuring compliance. The burden of a tax refers to the amount of effort required by taxpayers to pay tax; this includes such things as record keeping and form processing needed to pay a tax. Efficient tax collection avoids causing "excess burden" for taxpayers. Of course, the notion of what constitutes an "excessive" burden differs according to opinion. However, the general principle is that tax administration adds to the cost experienced by taxpayers and should be minimized as much as possible.
Tax equity refers to the concept of equal treatment by a tax system. There are different definitions of equity that can be applied under this concept.
• Horizontal equity means that taxpayers with similar economic conditions should pay equal amounts of taxes. This principle is referred to as the equal tax treatment doctrine.
• Vertical equity means that taxpayers with different economic conditions should pay different amounts of taxes, varying based on either their ability to pay or by the benefits received. This principle is referred to as the relative tax treatment doctrine.
Therefore, an efficient tax system should be as easy to administer as possible, while an equitable tax system should extract a similar amount of payment from groups of taxpayers at similar levels of income or wealth (horizontal equity), but also have some differential treatment for those who are more or less able to pay (vertical equity).
The bracketing system used in the current US federal income tax attempts to achieve vertical equity by allowing taxpayers with smaller incomes to pay a smaller amount of tax. Within each tax bracket, horizontal equity is at least nominally achieved by having the same rate within that group. Some have argued that a "flat tax" which is not bracketed would be more fair. It also would reduce the tax burden by simplifying the calculation of taxes owed. While this is true in terms of horizontal equity, this proposal would do away with an ability to pay concept, so vertical equity is not achieved. A simplified bracket system is a compromise between the two ideas.
Lessening the tax burden by simplifying the forms and procedures would also be recommended. However, the reason why forms are so complicated is mostly because of the numerous exemptions and deductions given to taxpayers for many different reasons, as matters of government policy. While the tax burden would be reduced by such a simplification, each one of those line items represents a benefit to a certain group of taxpayers, and its removal is therefore politically difficult. Therefore, although it's certainly possible to recommend simplification, it is much more difficult to politically achieve it.

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What is meant by the shifting and incidence of a tax? Compare and contrast the shifting and incidence of an income type of tax to an output type of tax.
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Shifting of a tax occurs when the amount of that tax is paid by another individual. The burden can be shifted forward to consumers, or backward to owners of resources. The incidence of a tax refers to the amount of the tax that ends up being paid by each party.
For example, in a typical sales tax, retailers will add tax at the end of the sale to the final amount paid by the consumer. Thus, a 10% tax on a $1.00 purchase leads to a final cost of $1.10 being paid by the consumer. In this case, the incidence of the tax is entirely on the consumer; the tax shifts forward.
On the other hand, the retailer could also pay the tax on behalf of the consumer. The consumer would pay only $1.00, but the retailer would pay the $0.10 tax on the purchase. In this case, the incidence of the tax is on the retailer; the tax shifts backward.
Another possibility would be that the $0.10 tax would be divided evenly between the two parties: the consumer pays $1.05 and the retailer pays the remaining $0.05. Now, the incidence of the tax is on both retailer and consumer and there is some shifting forward and backward.
Shifting applies to output taxes, which are charged on units of output. Sales taxes fall within this category. An income tax is said to be "independent of output" because it does not change supply. When the supply is not changed, the tax cannot be shifted; the incidence is always on the original taxpayer. Thus, shifting and incidence is applicable to output taxes but not to income taxes.

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Research the concept of a value added tax (VAT) as employed by the European Union. How does this type of tax differ from American-style sales and income taxes? Debate the pros and cons of implementing such a tax in the United States.
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Why is the composition of government spending important to future tax collection efforts? Discuss the differences between financial bailouts and infrastructure projects.
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Compare the tax burden of American taxpayers to those in other industrialized countries. Can you identify why the tax burden varies across national borders?
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Why was the recent era of federal government budget surplus so short? What factors have contributed to the recent federal government budget deficits?
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Discuss why externalities on the demand side or the supply side of the market result in an inefficient quantity of goods produced and sold, even in a purely competitive market.
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Assuming externalities on the demand side, explain how the government may pursue a policy that would lead to an efficient quantity produced and sold.
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Define what is meant by the term "price elasticity of demand." From a tax perspective, why is the price elasticity of demand important? Explain.
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What is the free-rider problem? What impact does it have on the market's ability to produce public goods?
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How have the financial crisis and Great Recession affected government revenues and expenditures? Discuss the implications of this for future taxpayers.
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What are the economic effects of government borrowing and government debt retirement?
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How did the tax reform measures enacted by the Reagan administration in the 1980s affect the marginal rates for the personal income tax? What was the result of these changes?
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Discuss people's fears about the size of government. Include in your discussion a historical account of the growth of government expenditures and government revenues. Are these fears justified?
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What are the characteristics of public goods? Explain why these goods cannot be supplied in the private marketplace. What criterion should the government use in determining the optimal quantity of public goods?
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