Should Individual Tax Records Be Public Information?

A recent essay in the New York Times raises the question as to whether individual tax payments should be considered public information.  It has been suggested that public disclosure of tax payments would create pressure to correct inequalities and loopholes in the current tax system.  Surprisingly, strict secrecy regarding tax records is a relatively modern aspect of the system.
In the first half of the 20th century, Congress twice required tax disclosure. In 1923 and 1924, individual and corporate taxpayers had to make public their tax payments but not entire returns. Proponents of disclosure said the measure would encourage tax compliance and reduce improper business conduct...

In the wake of accounting scandals and corporate earnings frauds of recent years, not to mention aggressive tax avoidance schemes, some experts say we should bring back corporate tax disclosure...

“If people could see how terrible the system is,” Professor Kotlikoff said, “perhaps then the appeal of a simple, straightforward and fair tax system might rise.”

Presidential candidates do release abbreviated tax records for public inspection.  Should individuals be expected to do the same?

Link, via The Cap Times (whence the image).

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

In France it's possible to obtain the amount of tax paid by somebody if you live in the same area (+/- county). But they don't show you how that tax was calculated, and it's forbidden to make it public.

Pretty much useless, ans that's a good thing.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Several local taxes are already public information depending on the jurisdiction in the US. The property tax is the big one. But, I can't see full disclosure of the income tax being a positive thing - when folks suddenly known how they compare to the market, they'll adjust to try improve their lot. Some companies may go under in the process or, at least, change dramatically.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Should Individual Tax Records Be Public Information?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More