The Process for Making Tax Policy in the United States: A System Full of Friction
This Article describes the process and participants in the formation of U.S. federal tax policy. Important to understanding the process is an understanding of the history underlying the structure of the U.S. legislative process. In particular, the U.S. Constitution established a system of checks and balances to prevent the arbitrary exercise of power, promote debate and ensure consensus. The tax policy debate in the United States is extensive, with substantial interaction within the government and between government officials and the public. The level of the debate is enhanced by the participation of numerous tax policy experts, both inside and outside the government. Although the system of checks and balances has certain advantages, it operates today in an environment of intense partisanship and pervasive concern about budget deficits. This combination of factors has made it difficult for Congress and the President to achieve the agreement necessary to resolve pressing fiscal issues, including the need for tax reform.