Taxing Ourselves, Fifth Edition

Taxing Ourselves, Fifth Edition

A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes

By Joel Slemrod and Jon Bakija

The new edition of a popular guide to the key issues in tax reform, presented in a clear, nontechnical, and unbiased way.
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The new edition of a popular guide to the key issues in tax reform, presented in a clear, nontechnical, and unbiased way.

To follow the debate over tax reform, the interested citizen is often forced to choose between misleading sound bites and academic treatises. Taxing Ourselves bridges the gap between the oversimplified and the arcane, presenting the key issues clearly and without a political agenda. Tax policy experts Joel Slemrod and Jon Bakija lay out in accessible language what is known and not known about how taxes affect the economy and offer guidelines for evaluating tax systems—both the current tax system and proposals to reform it.

This fifth edition has been extensively revised to incorporate the latest data, empirical evidence, and tax law. It offers new material on recent tax reform proposals, expanded coverage of international tax issues, and the latest enforcement initiatives. Offering historical perspectives, outlining the basic criteria by which tax policy should be judged (fairness, economic impact, enforceability), examining proposals for both radical change (replacement of the income tax with a flat tax or consumption tax) and incremental changes to the current system, and concluding with a voter's guide, the book provides readers with enough background to make informed judgments about how we should tax ourselves.

Praise for earlier editions“An excellent book.”—Jeff Medrick, New York Times“A fair-minded exposition of a politically loaded subject.”—Kirkus Reviews


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262035675 560 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 15 figures


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262533171 560 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 15 figures


  • This updated version of Taxing Ourselves remains the essential resource on tax policy for students, researchers, and the interested public.

    Austan Goolsbee

    Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, University of Chicago's Booth School of Business; former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

  • With a fresh perspective informed by insights from the latest economic research, Slemrod and Bakija engage the reader with a wealth of information about our tax system, its problems, and the challenges we confront in attempting tax reform in an era of increasing inequality, growing national debt, and sharp political polarization. But perhaps the biggest barrier to tax reform is misunderstanding, to which this book is an effective antidote.

    Alan J. Auerbach

    Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law, and Director, Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance, University of California, Berkeley