‘The tax code, once you get to know it, embodies all of the essence of life: greed, politics, power, goodness, charity. Everything’s in there.’ Sheldon Cohen, Former Commissioner of the US Internal Revenue Service.
Tax reform is back on the agenda. Since those who fail to study history risk repeating it (and I was involved in the latter-day history of tax reform) I’m writing this 3 part series as a guide for those involved in the next phase. Part 1 dealt with the dominant tax of the second half the 20th century – personal income tax. This part describes the intellectual and political contest between taxing income and consumption over the last four decades: a clash of tax titans.