The Crisis in Tax Administration

Brookings Institution Press
2
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People pay taxes for two reasons. On the positive side, most people recognize, even if grudgingly, that payment of tax is a duty of citizenship. On the negative side, they know that the law requires payment, that evasion is a crime, and that willful failure to pay taxes is punishable by fines or imprisonment. The practical questions for tax administration are how to strengthen each of these motives to comply with the law. How much should be spent on enforcement and how should enforcement be organized to promote these objectives and achieve the best results per dollar spent? Over the last few years, the U.S. Congress has restricted spending on tax administration, forcing the Internal Revenue Service to curtail enforcement activities, at the same time, that the number of individual filers has increased, tax rules have become more complex, and more business have become multinational operations. But if too many cases of tax evasion go undetected and unpunished, those who may have grudgingly paid their taxes may soon find it easier to join the scofflaws. These events in combination have created a genuine crisis in tax administration. The chapters in this volume evaluate the capacity of authorities to enforce the tax laws in a modern, global economy and examine the implications of failing to do so. Specific aspects of tax law, including tax shelters, issues relating to small businesses, tax software, role of tax preparers, and the objectives of tax simplification are examined in detail. The volume also builds a conceptual basis for future scholarship, with regard not only to tax administration, but also to such fundamental questions as whether taxpayers respond mostly to economic incentives or are influenced by their experiences with the filing process and what is the proper framework for evaluating the allocation of resources within the IRS.
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About the author

Henry J. Aaron is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he holds the Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Chair. Among his many books are Can We Say No? The Challenge of Rationing Health Care, with William B. Schwartz and Melissa Cox (Brookings, 2006), and Reforming Medicare: Options,Tradeoffs, and Opportunities, written with Jeanne Lambrew (Brookings, 2008). Joel Slemrod is Paul W. McCracken collegiate professor of business economics and public policy, professor of economics, and director, Office of Tax Policy Research, University of Michigan.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
May 20, 2004
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Pages
402
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ISBN
9780815796565
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Personal Finance / Taxation
Business & Economics / Taxation / General
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Academic medical centers provide cutting edge acute care, train tomorrow's physicians, and carry out research that will expand the range of treatable and curable illnesses. But these centers themselves may need urgent care—experts generally agree that many are suffering acute—even life-threatening—financial distress. Many academic medical centers are suffering for several reasons: in-patient admissions are down, as many procedures that once required a hospital stay are now performed on an out-patient basis or in a physician's office ; managed care plans have negotiated discounted fees that cut hospital operating margins; the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 curtailed Medicare reimbursements, lowered margins and pushed some into the red; the revolution in information technology is imposing large new capital costs; and the character of medical education is receiving its most thorough review in decades. While there is a general consensus that medical centers are under pressure, experts disagree about the depth and pervasiveness of the current financial distress. Are they whining about financial pressures other, less-favored sectors find routine; or is the high quality American teaching hospital becoming an endangered species—that could face extinction if nothing is done. Because academic medical centers perform such important jobs, it is critical to determine the true nature and depth of their current financial problems—and then fashion analytically sound and politically sustainable solutions. This book brings together chief executive officers of major medical centers, university presidents, senior members of Congressional and executive office staffs, and leading analysts. These experts address the key issues and prescribe remedies both regulatory and legislative to ensure that the teaching hospital remains a picture of financial health. Contributors include Nancy Kane (Harvard School of Public Health), Jamie Reuter (Institute for Health Care Research Policy, Georgetown University), Peter van Etten (Juvenile Diabetes Foundation), Ralph Muller (University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System), James Robinson (School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley), David Blumenthal (Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital), Edward Miller (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Spencer Foreman (Montefiore Medical Center), Lawrence Lewin (Lewin Group), Gail Wilensky (Project HOPE), Robert Dickler (American Association of Medical Colleges), and Kenneth Shine (Institute of Medicine).
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