Tax reform research topics—Donald Trump and federal income tax

Speculation about how much Donald Trump has paid in federal income tax has been in the news for months. After the first debate, the interest has increased as leaked documents indicate the Republican presidential candidate may have not paid taxes for close to two decades.

Learn more about tax reform here. (Credit: Rate Coalition)

Learn more about tax reform here. (Credit: Rate Coalition)

How we generate revenue for the government is an issue that’s constantly being debated by politicians and everyday citizens. Valid ideas for tax reform that both sides could agree on is just one research paper idea to explore on this topic.

Donald Trump and taxes in the news

The refusal by Donald Trump to release his most recent tax returns has brought the issue of taxes into the spotlight, particularly how the burden of federal income tax is distributed amongst the poor, middle class, wealthy, and corporations. A research paper could take an economics angle and compare and contrast how changes in the tax code has impacted our nation’s economy over the years.

The latest news surrounding Donald Trump and his federal income tax is not that he won’t release his returns, but that he may have legally avoided paying any federal income taxes since 1996. Evelyn Rupert posted details in “Report: Trump could have legally avoided taxes for years” October 1, 2016, for, which stated, “A $916 million loss Donald Trump reported on his 1995 income tax returns could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income tax for up to 18 years.”

How does the U.S. generate revenue?

If the information about Donald Trump and his lack of federal income tax payment is true, the practice is entirely legal, so why the concern? According to “The real problem with Trump’s taxes isn’t what you think” by Jeff Reeves for USA TODAY October 4, 2016, the problem lies in how the current system favors the wealthy. Reeves wrote, “Anyone who makes money via investing probably pays a much lower tax rate than a middle-class American who works 40 hours a week.”

This reality is why voters from both political parties are interested in pursuing tax reform, although their hopes for a revised tax code may be very different. A research paper could explore how other western nations handle taxes or the history of the flat tax and why that is a popular tax reform idea for many.

Can there be tax reform?

According to The Pew Research Center, the number of middle class Americans is declining. In 1971 about two out of three Americans were middle class. In 2015, that figure had dropped to just under half or 49.9 percent of Americans were considered middle class. A research paper could examine this shifting demographic and how this change has impacted the economy.

Funding Government Fairly: A Prospect Report on Tax Reform” by Jared Bernstein for the Spring 2016 issue of The American Prospect shared his thoughts on the importance of the federal income tax to generate revenue for the country, as well as why tax reform is important. He wrote, “the system needs to raise enough revenues to cover the fiscal obligations and economic challenges we face. Second, our tax system should reduce, not exacerbate, market-driven inequality.” Another research paper topic could look into how the current tax system adheres to Bernstein’s idea about helping to reduce inequality.

Want to learn more about tax reform? Check out Questia—particularly the section on tax evasion.

Is tax reform something that can be achieved with the division between the major political parties? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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