Using the Tax Code to Punish People and the Massachusetts Senate Election

January 20, 2010

One-time Massachusetts resident and Tax Analysts president Chris Bergin dissects yesterday’s stunning Massachusetts senate election:

From a tax standpoint, what does this special election mean? I think the revenue provisions in the House and Senate health care bills, which the Washington politicians are trying to resolve, are in trouble – maybe big trouble.

Why? Both the House and Senate health care reform bills would use the tax code to punish. Punish people who don’t do what the government tells them to do regarding their health care; punish people whose health care plans are better than most; punish people who, in the government’s opinion, make too much money.

Despite its apparent popularity in the Obama administration and in Congress, using the tax code to punish people for not doing what the government wants them to do is a bad idea.

Read the rest here. Bergin is right that using the tax code to reward or punish people is a bad idea and bad policy. Taxes should just raise revenue and do it in the least distortive way possible.

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