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美国税改;必须做的一件事


来源:经济学家    作者:经济学家   时间:2013-02-01 16:36   点击: 次  


 
Still in Books and Arts; Book Review;Tax reform in America;A simple bare necessity;
文艺;书评;美国税改;必须做的一件事;

The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform—Why We Need It and What It Will Take. By Bruce Bartlett.
《效益与负担:税改——我们为什么需要税改,推行税改需要什么》。布鲁斯·巴特利特著。


Few subjects match tax reform for economic importance and utter lack of sex appeal. With a government bleeding red ink, an ageing population and growth lagging, reform is back on America's political agenda. Bruce Bartlett, a supply-side economist, tax expert and former adviser to President Reagan, is among those best equipped to help navigate the murky terrain. Mr Bartlett held influential economic positions during the country's last great spasm of reform in the 1980s, but he is now held an apostate by many Republicans, for whom the only acceptable tax changes are cuts. His balanced, well-researched primer on America's tax system, “The Benefit and the Burden”, will not endear him further to ideologues, but it is a refreshing entrée to a difficult subject.
很少有话题能像税收改革那样具有经济意义,也很少有话题能像税收改革这样枯燥无味。 政府赤字还在增加,人口老龄化还在加剧,经济增长依然迟缓,税收改革又重新回到美国的政治议程。 一些人秣马厉兵帮助美国共渡难关,供应学派经济学家布鲁斯·巴特莱特就是其中的一位,他是一位税务专家,曾在里根政府里担任顾问。 在上世纪80年代的美国改革阵痛中,巴特莱特先生确立了他在经济领域的重要地位, 然而现在许多共和党人视他为“叛徒”,因为唯一可以接受的税改方案因他而被删除。 他那本结构平衡、条分缕析介绍美国税制的普及读本《福利及税负》不再使他更受理论家的追捧, 但把这本书当作一个困难话题的“开口小菜”倒是不错。

The book's no-nonsense approach to tax policy proves surprisingly engaging. Mr Bartlett walks readers through discussions on income and spending—basic concepts made baffling within the context of the tax code. He offers a dose of history and the useful perspective of a seasoned Washington hand. America's labyrinthine tax rules are hardly the product of intelligent design, he explains. The popular deduction for home-mortgage interest that helped create suburban America, for example, was not adopted to boost home-ownership but included quite innocently in a 1913 income-tax law that spared interest of any kind. Where economics has useful things to say about tax Mr Bartlett is quick to cite research. And he is prepared to let empirical analysis speak for itself.
该书对税收政策的讲述比较严肃,后经证明这是一种引人入胜的方式。 巴特莱特先生让读者领会了财政收支问题,在税收法典中这些基本概念常让人感到困惑。 他提供的是一剂历史良药,他提供给读者的是身经百战的政府官员才能具备的有用视角。 巴特莱特先生解释说,美国的税收规则如迷宫一般,几乎不是智慧设计的产物。 例如,帮助美国郊区快速发展的按揭贷款利息扣除的流行做法,就没有被采用以提高住房的自有率,但却被十分天真地写到美国1913年所得税法当中,按照该方法,各类利息都可以免除。 经济学中谈及税收的有用章节都会很快被巴特莱特先生引用。 他准备让经验分析自己证明这一切。

Mr Bartlett's critique of America's tax system is that it creates a deceptive picture of the influence of government, and is far too costly. On revenues as a share of GDP, America's government looks small relative to its European peers. The difference is illusory. European health spending shows up on the government's ledgers whereas America's tax preferences for health insurance do not. But the government intervention is there all the same. In 2012 the deduction for employer-provided insurance cost some $434 billion, or roughly 3% of GDP. Include these “tax expenditures” in the budget, Mr Bartlett says, and America's state looks as bloated as any in Europe. Net social spending rises to 27.2% of GDP—above the level in Italy and Denmark and higher than the OECD average.
巴特莱特先生对美国税制提出批评,认为它制造了一种政府影响力的假象,而且成本太高。 看上去美国税收收入与GDP之间的比率比欧洲国家要低。 两者之间的区别是不真实的。 欧洲国家的保健支出在政府账上显示为增加,而美国健康保险的税收优惠却没有增加。 但美国和欧洲国家政府的介入一直是一致的。 2012年,雇主提供的保险成本扣除数为4340亿美元左右,约占GDP的3%。 巴特莱特先生表示,包括这些预算中“税收支出”在内,美国的状况看起来与欧洲任何国家一样庞大。 社会净支出增加到GDP的27.2%,超过了意大利和丹麦,也高于经合组织的平均水平。

It is also needlessly costly, riddled with quirks of the sort that allow Warren Buffett, an American billionaire, and the Republican presidential contender, Mitt Romney, to pay a lower average tax rate than many poorer households. Rates should be cut, Mr Bartlett argues, but one must also broaden the tax base, leaving few loopholes through which revenue might escape. The value-added tax (VAT) that is common in Europe is a better way. VAT is a tax on consumption; firms receive credits for tax paid on business supplies. The structure improves compliance and efficiency. Europe raises more money than America at less cost to growth; some high-tax countries like Denmark outperform America in real growth per head.
也不必说它的成本高昂了,有很多奇怪的制度设计使得美国亿万富翁巴菲特、共和党总统竞争者罗姆尼比许多贫困家庭支付的税率还要低。 巴特莱特先生认为,税率应该降低,但税基必须扩大,使得收入没有太多的漏洞可钻。 欧洲普遍实施的增值税就是一个比较好的方法。 增值税是一种消费税,公司收到供应商的货物,也就收到了的税收信用, 这种设计能够加强人们对税法的遵守,能够提高效率。 欧洲比美国的税收更高,而税收成本增长更小,像丹麦这样的高税收国家,人均实际增长比美国要好。

Mr Bartlett favours the introduction of VAT, but reckons that politics will make this hard to do. It is doubly abhorrent to Republicans, who oppose any new taxes, and who fear that the “painless” efficiency of VAT may make the American government too eager to spend. Democrats, on the other hand, worry that VAT will harm low-income households relative to income tax, which is more progressive. European welfare states often rely on tax systems that are flatter than America's, using welfare spending to smooth out inequities.
巴特莱特先生倾向于引进增值税,但他认为美国政治将为这个问题增加难度。 也会增加共和党的憎恶,因为他们反对任何新的税种,他们担心增值税的“无痛”功效可能促使美国政府急于花钱。 另一方面,民主党则担心增值税会损害到与所得税这个更先进的税收相关的低收入家庭的利益。 欧洲福利国家常依靠比美国更低的税收制度,使用福利支出来弥合社会不公。

America's politics seem ill-prepared for such reforms. Democrats, riding populist outrage at the rich, want to protect the welfare state and pay for it through tax rises on the wealthy. On the right, well-heeled Americans fume that nearly half of all households pay no federal income tax. Mr Bartlett's political diagnosis is perhaps the book's least satisfying aspect. Little will be accomplished until congressional Republicans are willing to compromise, he writes, and America's best chance may be to elect a reform-minded Republican president and a Democratic Congress—and to hope. In the end, the weaknesses in America's tax code are not half as debilitating as those in its politics.
面临税制改革,美国政府似乎准备不足。 民主党将平民主义的愤怒发泄到富人身上,他们想要保住福利制度,通过对富人增税解决这个问题。 在右派这边,富有的美国人愤怒地说,将近一半的美国家庭不缴联邦所得税。 巴特莱特先生对美国政治的诊断也许是该书是不能令人满意的地方。 他在书中写道,除非国会中的共和党人愿意作出妥协,否则很难取得进展,美国最好的局面可能是,由一位具有改革精神的共和党人做总统,由民主党人领导国会——他希望如此。 最后,美国税典中的缺点所带来的负面影响远不及美国政治大。
 
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