There is a widespread consensus among Americans across the political spectrum
that the U.S. tax system is overly complex, inefficient, uncompetitive, and due for an
overhaul. However, Congress has not passed a comprehensive tax reform bill in three
decades. As a result, many lawmakers have set their sights on the 2017 legislative
session as an opportunity to hammer out a tax reform deal.
Because so many parts of the U.S. tax code are in need of change, any tax reform bill
considered by Congress is likely to be hundreds of pages long and contain dozens of
distinct provisions. As a result, lawmakers and voters may be unsure of the effects of
each separate tax change on federal revenue collections, the tax burden borne by different
groups of Americans, and the growth of the U.S. economy.
To assist lawmakers in assembling tax reform bills over the coming months, and to
help the American public in understanding the tax changes being proposed, we have
assembled this book: Options for Reforming America’s Tax Code.
This book describes 86 commonly proposed changes to the U.S. tax code that might
be part of a future tax reform bill. Over the past few months, our team of economists
has modeled the effects that each option would have on federal revenue, the distribution
of the tax burden, and the U.S. economy. These figures will give policymakers
and voters a full, three-dimensional understanding of the effects of each policy
The options we’ve chosen for this book are not necessarily the Tax Foundation’s
favored policies. In fact, no policy described in the following pages would be an
unequivocally good or an unambiguously bad change to the tax code. Each of the
options in this book comes with tradeoffs.
It is becoming increasingly clear that tax reform is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
We hope that this book helps policymakers get it right.