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Pathways to Tax Reform Revisited

Leonard E. Burman

Published: July 11, 2013
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There is widespread agreement that the income tax needs reform, although little agreement about how to do it. A common thread in most reform proposals is to slash most tax expenditures. A 1973 book by Stanley Surrey made the case that cuts in tax expenditures was the "pathway to tax reform." This paper revisits Surrey's pathway, examining various proposals to eliminate, reduce, or reformulate tax expenditures as part of tax reform, including limitations on tax expenditures, converting most tax expenditures to credits, and more radical reforms that would vastly reduce the number of return filers.