Debunking the claim that higher income-tax rates reduce GDP.

Making government work better.
Feb. 23 2010 3:39 PM

Tax Fraud

Debunking the claim that higher income-tax rates reduce GDP.

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More sophisticated efforts to analyze this relationship also produce decidedly murky results. An excellent review of this in the Yale Law Journal, "Why Tax the Rich? Efficiency, Equity, and Progressive Taxation," concludes that there is scant, if any, legitimate academic support for the proposition that moderate, as opposed to dramatic, increases in marginal rates have any impact on the willingness of the wealthy to participate in the economy.

So where does this leave us? Probably with Weisman's conclusion—that the debate between justice and virtue will continue for years to come. But this debate may be little more than a Rorschach test—an inkblot into which we read our underlying values about income distribution and social welfare. Those who see taxes as the bane of progress will still claim that higher marginal rates are the enemy of economic growth. Those who favor greater progressivity will say there is no evidence of such a claim. They will conclude—and they will be right—that the wealthier can afford to pay more, with no harm to the nation's economic growth.

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Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, hosts Viewpoint on Current TV. Follow @eliotspitzer on Twitter.