PUBPOL 475.307: Topics: Tax Policy

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Fall 2017
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Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said that "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society," but who should pay and how much? In this course, we will develop the tools of policy analysis and economics to engage in several current debates in tax policy at the local, state, federal, and international levels. Examples include:

- Carbon taxes, soda/sugar taxes and other sin taxes--What are the pros and cons?
- "Economic development wars"--Should states and local governments use big tax breaks to lure businesses?
- "Amazon tax"--Should Amazon and other online retailers have to collect state and local sales taxes? States are losing hundreds of millions of dollars and brick and mortar stores argue that online retailers have an unfair advantage.
- The "Buffet Rule"--How much do the rich pay in taxes and how much should they pay?
- The "Double Irish Dutch Sandwich" and other strategies to use international tax havens--What is being done? What should be done?

Students will prepare short writing assignments and engage in mock debates on policy issues. The major project in the class will be the development of a white paper on a topic of choice.