ECON 351 Tax Policy (Not offered 2004-2005) (Q) (W)

The tax system is a major element of public policy. In addition to raising revenue for government expenditure programs, policymakers use the tax system to redistribute resources and to promote a variety of economic policies. For example, the United States tax system has specific rules to encourage savings, education, and investment. Inherently, many tax policy choices involve trade-offs between equity and efficiency. The purpose of this course is to clarify the goals and possibilities of tax policy, mainly through an examination of U.S. federal tax policy (though the search for possible reforms may lead us to examine policies from other countries). The course will examine the choice of the tax base (income or consumption), notations of fairness in taxation (e.g., the rate structure), the choice to tax corporate income separately from personal income, and a variety of specific tax policy issues (e.g., retirement saving, child care, the "marriage" tax, capital gains taxation, and the taxation of housing). Format: seminar/discussion. Requirements: short policy memos, paper, and final exam. Prerequisites: Economics 251 and preferably some familiarity with statistical analysis. Enrollment limit: 19 (expected: 10). Preference given to senior Economics majors.