Tax Foundation Named Organization of the Year by State Tax Notes!

December 5, 2011

Today is the Tax Foundation’s birthday! Since that founding day in New York City in 1937, for 74 years we have provided economically principled research, data, and analysis on tax issues at all levels of government.

This morning’s birthday present is the announcement by the respected trade publication State Tax Notes, naming us as 2011’s Organization of the Year!

Organization of the Year

Tax Foundation

The Tax Foundation is State Tax Notes’ Organization of the Year. State Tax Notes asked a wide variety of professionals in and outside the tax field the following question: What organization do you rely on the most for state and local tax information? The overwhelming choice was the Tax Foundation. Over the past decade, the foundation has become a source of data, studies, and other fiscal information for tax professionals, legislative staffs, media, governmental affairs offices, and academics.

For many, Tax Foundation is viewed as a conservative organization. And in its 60-plus years, the foundation has often sided with those advocating lower tax burdens. But invariably it is cited for its solid data collection and analysis. More importantly, the Tax Foundation gets high marks for its commitment to the principles of sound tax policy. Indeed, its tax policy positions have been praised in the pages of State Tax Notes on many occasions. The Tax Foundation’s reliable data and sound principles have led many people from widely varying political perspectives to depend on its information.

The foundation is relied on by major news organizations, public finance scholars, and legislative staff more than any other organization. Only the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federation of Tax Administrators come close. Among the information most in demand are the foundation’s information tools and data project. The foundation provides interactive data on tax rates and tax burdens. It compiles a widely cited state business tax climate index. Consistent with its conservative roots, the foundation also produces a famous, albeit controversial, annual Tax Freedom Day report. It also publishes an annual Facts & Figures handbook, which compares the 50 states on 40 different measures of taxing and spending, including individual and corporate income tax rates, business tax climate, excise taxes, tax burdens, and state spending.

But it is on the policy side that the foundation receives most of its compliments from tax professionals. From a traditional tax policy perspective, the foundation has been on the correct side of most state and local tax issues in the past decade. And appropriately, it has received high marks from both liberals and conservatives. For example, the foundation has long criticized the use of tax incentives to spur economic development. Long before crony capitalism entered the lexicon, the Tax Foundation opposed attempts to use tax policy to favor particular industries. Most recently, it has led the fight against the proliferation of film industry tax credits. It is one of the few organizations that consistently oppose the use of sales tax holidays. It has also criticized the overuse of excise taxes and the proliferation of gambling as a means of paying for government.

Liberal lawmakers and organizations are often critical of the Tax Foundation’s positions. But State Tax Notes found that even the most ardently liberal legislators acknowledged, often grudgingly, that the foundation was generally right in its approach to tax policy. The influence of the Tax Foundation in the state and local tax world is due largely to Joe Henchman. Henchman serves as the foundation’s vice president of legal and state projects, as well as its vice president of operations. He is a frequent speaker at tax conferences around the country and regularly testifies before legislative bodies. Through his efforts, the foundation has been at the forefront of every important state tax policy debate. Henchman received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and his law degree from George Washington University.

The Rest of the Top 10 Organizations

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
National Conference of State Legislatures
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
Direct Marketing Association
Multistate Tax Commission
Federation of Tax Administrators
Council On State Taxation
American Legislative Exchange Council
Americans for Tax Reform

Additionally, our own Joe Henchman was ranked 6th on the list of those individuals who influenced state tax policy in 2011.

Check out the full State Tax Notes announcement here (subscription required).

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