Will Raising Taxes Fix Our Deficit Issue

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  • The government’s budget deficit in 2009 was $1.5 trillion. Many have suggested raising taxes on the rich to cover the difference between what the government collected in revenue and what it spent. Is that a realistic solution? Economics professor Antony Davies uses data to demonstrate why taxing the rich will not be sufficient to make the budget deficit disappear. He says, “The budget deficit is so large that there simply aren’t enough rich people to tax to raise enough to balance the budget.” Instead, it’s time to work on legitimate solutions, like cutting spending.

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  • When the government raises taxes, does it actually collect a larger portion of the US economy? As the U.S. debt and deficit grows, some politicians and economist have called for higher tax rates in order to balance the budget. Professor Antony Davies examines 50 years of economic data and finds that regardless of tax rates, the percentage of GDP that the government collects has remained relatively constant. In other words, no matter how high government sets tax rates, the government gets about the same portion. According to Davies, if we’re concerned about balancing the budget, we should worry less about raising tax revenue and more about growing the economy. The recipe for growth? Lower tax rates and a simplified tax code.

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  • Although it may seem counterintuitive, raising taxes on the rich does not actually increase the amount of taxes the government collects. How could this possibly be the case? According to Professor Antony Davies, it is because the many loopholes in federal income taxes, capital gains taxes, and many other taxes, enable people to partially avoid these taxes. Perhaps instead of discussing how to raise tax revenues, we should spend our energy simplifying the tax code. This would make it more difficult for people to avoid taxes and, Davies says, “The less time and money we spend trying to work around a complex tax code, the more time and money we will have available to put to more productive uses.”