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March 04, 2005

Non-Taxing, If Possible

Could anyone recommend a good, readable book on the fundamentals of tax policy?

March 4, 2005 | Permalink

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David Johnston's "Perfectly Legal" is --okay-- if you want to read about rich people not paying taxes. Otherwise, the best stuff on taxes is pretty academic.

Posted by: Marshall | Mar 4, 2005 12:04:30 PM

I can't give you a specific title, but Bill Gale at the Brookings Institute is great. He was my public finance prof at UCLA in the 80's. His explanations on why supply-side economics has conceptually sound points but is completely unworkable in practical policy still sticks with me.

He also could explain clearly why means testing on SS is not cost effective.

Posted by: tom coffin | Mar 4, 2005 12:12:35 PM

No, but if you find one, would you tell us- I'd like to know, too!

Posted by: TJ | Mar 4, 2005 12:54:19 PM

Gale/Orszag's monthly "Tax Notes" at Brookings are always a good read.

And this, by the recently-passed away David Bradford, is very important. Bradford's book is good too -- Untangling Tax Policy or something like that.

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Mar 4, 2005 12:59:22 PM

Also -- check it. (Argh, I should so be doing work right now instead of fluttering around Amazon... bwa-ha...)

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Mar 4, 2005 1:03:31 PM

I just started "Perfectly Legal," which is far from a dispassionate take, but definitely worth a read.

Posted by: praktike | Mar 4, 2005 1:06:21 PM

Perfectly Legal is a good read, but as praktike notes, is pretty slanted (I would say overly so).

Posted by: Ugh | Mar 4, 2005 1:33:47 PM

Brad - as well as the other Brad (DeLong) - are suggesting Bradford's book, which is truly excellent. As far as "Perfectly Legal", Johnson was on the right track as far as a tough issue but his thirst for trashing tax attorneys got in the way of good research. Good research would have allowed him to write more calmly but with harder zingers on this rent seeking community of hacks who would make NRO's econopundits look honest.

Posted by: pgl | Mar 4, 2005 1:34:28 PM

I read Showdown at Gucci Gulch over Christmas to familiarize myself with the 1986 tax package in anticipation of the upcoming debate. It's a good read and captures, I think, much of what went on then, as well as the policy implications of the various changes.

No doubt this round of tax changes will be different but this is some useful background. Not overly soporific and a pretty quick read, as far as books on tax policy go.

Posted by: Jesse Zink | Mar 4, 2005 2:27:02 PM

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Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 5:47:48 AM

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