Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Flat Tax Proposals: A Current View with a History of the Arguments Pro and Con

This paper reviews recent political proposals for a flat tax within a broad historical perspective. That perspective traces economic and philosophical arguments about a "just" tax from the 16th century to the present, focusing on progressive versus flat marginal tax rates. The conclusion is that none of the flat tax proposals differ dramatically and none progress a pure flat tax. The political debate is one that focuses on the issue of whether or not an incalculable and only potential inequity cost to society is overshadowed by a calculable benefit by reducing compliance cost and possibly stimulating economic growth by the reduction of marginal tax rates.