Numerous scandals have put the IRS under intense public and political scrutiny. A broad and growing consensus has also emerged that the U.S. tax code is in dire need of comprehensive reform. But while solutions to these two pressing problems are debated by elected officials, it is the activities of unelected global tax bureaucrats at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that might have the biggest impact on Americans in the immediate future.
Andrew F. Quinlan | All Articles
Among the vast multitude of federal government programs, a rare few have as their mission the protection of the general taxpayer interest. Those that do are typically beset by special interests and the beneficiaries of government largess. An example is the Recovery Audit Program, which identifies and recovers improper Medicare payments, but is now under siege from the hospital industry.
When Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z held an exclusive $40,000 per-person fundraiser for President Barack Obama's re-election, it was part of a concerted effort by the music industry to curry favor with the administration. Now the industry is looking for the White House to return the favor. They are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to tear up a long-standing agreement between the recording industry and the government designed to ensure that royalty rate hikes cannot be imposed without real market-based negotiations.
Led by the United Nations, a growing international chorus is calling for sweeping investigations of Sri Lanka over its conduct at the tail end of its brutal civil war that lasted more than a quarter century. With recent demands within the EU to revoke its trade status if Sri Lanka does not acquiesce to what it considers a biased and faulty effort, the very Western countries that once cheered its war against one of the world's most vicious terrorist groups are piling on through the political process and threatening to throw the country back into chaos.
Americans have now had ample time to become acquainted with Obamacare's numerous destructive provisions. Some of its failures, like the expensive and inoperable exchange websites, have been quite public. Others have gone largely unnoticed. One such example is the hefty 10 percent tax on indoor tanning sessions, which has proven over four years to be a decisive policy failure.
Tax reform was a popular topic among politicians and members of the media in 2013. Americans suffering in the still weak economy and feeling beleaguered by recent tax hikes were no doubt disappointed that it remained just that – talk. Given the recent history of our government this should come as little surprise, but it's nevertheless disappointing that they've thus far proven incapable of amending our destructive tax code and instituting much needed pro-growth reforms.
In light of multiple revelations on the extent of NSA spying upon U.S. citizens, Americans are increasingly weary of government infringement on privacy rights. First, it was revealed that the NSA was mining data from internet companies with a program called PRISM. Later we learned this information was used for much more than just hunting terrorists, with the DEA and IRS getting tips from the NSA and using information collected by the dragnet in the course of ordinary investigations. But as shocking as these and other revelations have been, perhaps the most breathtakingly invasive program remains largely unknown among the general public.
It's a common refrain that the tax code is excessively complicated. One obvious and frequently deplored reason is that politicians like to use the tax code to provide favors for special interests in exchange for contributions and support. But another cause deserves equal scrutiny, and that is the belief that people should be steered toward particular choices or behaviors and away from others. Aside from leading to a Swiss cheese-style tax code, this sort of paternalism often backfires, creating more problems than it solves. It must stop.
Government is larger than ever, and Americans are growing increasingly wary about expansions of federal power. To overcome public objections and justify the continued growth of government, politicians exploit grievances and sell their programs with emotional appeals. The most frequent such appeal in recent years has been to perceptions of fairness, but the policies promoted under the banner of fairness are often anything but. One such law passed in 2010 and soon to be fully implemented, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), is not only decidedly unfair, but also devastatingly destructive.