Boston College Law Professor James Repetti’s scholarly timing couldn’t have been better. Here’s what he wrote in a recent article in BC Law Magazine: “Just as an efficient tax system can improve the nation’s standard of living by insuring that taxes do not harm welfare, so can tax rate progressivity make important contributions to the well-being of citizens by helping to reduce inequality.”
His observation unearthed a provocative problem, and solution, that may appeal to policymakers in the new administration. As Repetti explained in “The Appropriate Roles for Equity and Efficiency in a Progressive Income Tax” (Florida Tax Review)—which elicited a positive review by Colorado Law Associate Professor Sloan Speck in TaxProf Blog February 5—the increased focus on efficiency in formulating tax policy over several decades has decreased rate progressivity in the individual income tax. That decrease, Repetti argued, has exacerbated inequality.
“Repetti’s analysis is a clear repudiation of a longstanding mantra of tax reform: broaden the base, and lower rates,” Sloan wrote. “[His] sweeping and authoritative article yields important support to a revival of equity norms in tax law and policy. Tax scholars and policymakers, especially in the Biden administration, would be well-served by close attention to the breadth and depth of Repetti’s convincing analysis.”