The U.S. tax system is economically inefficient and excessively complex. The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) studies how the tax system can be simplified and improved to enhance economic growth and reduce unnecessary burdens on taxpayers. Through research reports, hearings, and discussions, the JEC informs lawmakers and the general public about the potential to improve the tax system and about the importance of understanding the incentives and disincentives that the tax system creates.

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Related Files

  • The Health Benefit Tax Exclusion Distorts the Health Insurance Market

    Washington, DC - The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) today released a study on how federal tax policy has influenced the way the U.S. health insurance market has developed over the past sixty years since the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a special ruling that the portion of employees’ health insurance paid by employers is treated as a tax -free benefit. Release12172003.pdf (88.2 KBs)
  • Bennett Seeks Tax Simplification

    Washington, DC—The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) today released “Constant Change: A History of Federal Taxes,” the first in a series of reports on tax policy that will highlight the complexity of today’s tax code and the urgent need for its simplification. Today’s report identifies several specific eras in tax policy, and how we arrived at our current complicated tax system. “The current tax code is extraordinarily complex and frequently at cross-purposes with itself,” said JEC Chairman Bob Bennett. “This report provides a historical perspective on the tax system in order to better understand it and identify ways to simplify it.” The history of the income tax reveals several clear patterns in tax legislation. In recent decades, the Reagan tax cut of 1981 promoted two trends – lowering marginal tax rates and reducing the double taxation of saving – that have remained important tax policy. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 affirmed the importance of lower tax rates, but temporarily reversed the effort to alleviate the tax burden on saving. Since 1986, the tax treatment of saving has improved, but complexity and tax rates have generally increased along with the targeted use of the tax code as an instrument of social policy. Future reports in the JEC Tax Policy series will further explore how Congress can approach tax code changes from a consistent framework that incorporates lessons learned from history. Release09122003.pdf (88.4 KBs)
  • Bennett Urges Overhaul of the Tax Code

    Washington, DC—Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), held a hearing today on “Rethinking the Tax Code.” “The present tax system is unduly cumbersome, inefficient, and incomprehensible,” said Chairman Bennett. “Over the years, through revision after revision, the tax code has become a confusing, burdensome web that hampers economic growth, places undue burdens on American enterprise, and needlessly complicates the lives of the American people.” In May of this year, seventy members of the Senate agreed that there are serious problems in our current tax code and passed legislation calling for the Joint Economic Committee to review ways to overhaul the antiquated system. Today’s hearing was in response to that vote. It is part of a series of hearings, studies, and related events the JEC is undertaking to find the path to real tax reform. The hearing was based on the premise that the tax system should be simple, fair, and efficient, and that the tax system should be solely a means for the government to raise revenue and not to promote or discourage specific behaviors. The tax system should also be enduring, because individuals and businesses cannot make intelligent plans if the tax system constantly changes. Among the ideas discussed at the hearing was the implementation of a flat tax. Under a flat tax, all individuals who earn over a certain minimum amount would pay the same tax rate, and could use some deductions. This proposal would allow for greater simplicity and the ability of taxpayers to file their taxes on a form no larger than a postcard. Another idea was to improve tax-preferred savings accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Relieving restrictions on these accounts, for example, would give people greater incentives to save, leading to greater economic growth. “Today’s exercise was to imagine we are working with a clean sheet of paper,” said Bennett. “If we are to institute a fair, simple, and efficient tax system we’ve got to scrap our current code. And from there, we can create from scratch a system that is simple, that is fair, and once we have accomplished that, a system that will endure for years to come.” Release11052003.pdf (74.4 KBs)
  • JEC Report Shows Dividend Tax Relief Helps Everybody

    Washington, D.C. – Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a report today showing dividend tax relief helps everybody, not just taxpayers who currently receive taxable dividends. Release02202003.pdf (86.0 KBs)
  • Senate Passes Bennett Amendment to Study Flat Tax, Tax Code Simplification

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Bob Bennett calling on the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) to hold hearings and consider legislation providing for overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code and implementation of a federal flat tax. Release05152003.pdf (104.1 KBs)
  • CBO Report Confirms Benefit of Pro-Growth Tax Relief

    Washington, D.C. – Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said today dynamic analyses by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirm pro-growth tax relief – such as ending the double taxation of dividends – will help the economy. Release04012003.pdf (85.7 KBs)

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