Memo to Bruce Bartlett: Just Do the Math

Tuerck identifies six mistakes made by Bartlett in attempting to identify the distributional consequences of the FairTax.


In the November 13, 2006, issue of Tax Notes, my coauthors and I published an article (the BHI/Kotlikoff study) in which we hoped to resolve issues related to the FairTax proposal, under which the federal government would replace almost all existing taxes with a sales tax.

Our article was aimed largely at correcting and updating findings reached by William G. Gale in his earlier critique of the FairTax. We hoped that our article would elevate the discussion of the FairTax, which is gaining increased attention in national politics. 

We also hoped that, by presenting the underlying mathematics in painstaking detail, we could dispel the confusion that had long lingered over the calculation of the FairTax rate. Now, in a recent article, Bruce Bartlett launches an attack on the FairTax in which he lapses into the same confusion that we (and Gale before us) had attempted to dispel.  Bartlett singles out our study for criticism, accusing us of duplicity in our efforts to work through the mathematics involved. In the process, he brings his readers back to square one in getting things right.

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