Taxation, Wealth, and Saving
The papers in this volume reflect David Bradford's dual experience as a theoretical economist and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury for Tax Policy and Director of the Treasury's Office of Tax Analysis. While at the Treasury, Bradford was involved in producing the 1977 report entitled Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform. Blueprints describes two models for fundamental income tax reform. One is based on the Haig-Simons income concept, which still dominates American income tax thinking. The other, which builds on an intellectual tradition dating back to John Stuart Mill, is based on consumption. Eventually Bradford became convinced that the politically unpopular consumption-based model was the superior one. Since he left the Treasury, much of his professional focus has been on economic analysis of the income tax system and on tax policy advocacy.
The book is divided into four parts. Part I covers the broad issues involved in comparing income to consumption as a tax base. Part II, which presents some of the most interesting analytical challenges concerning income and consumption taxes, contains the most technical papers in the collection. Part III addresses the potential deployment of the consumption approach to taxation. Moving in another direction, Part IV focuses on savings and investment, in particular the gap between the statistical evidence of rates of saving and investment and the economic theory that describes this behavior.
"David F. Bradford is the deepest thinker, bar none, among public finance economists. His writings on consumption taxation and saving are consistently insightful, important, and elegant."
—Joel Slemrod, Paul W. McCracken Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy; Director, Office of Tax Policy Research, University of Michigan Business School