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The federal government currently relies heavily on the individual income tax and payroll taxes for about 80 percent of its total annual revenue. Long-range projections show that without some form of policy change, the gap between revenues and spending will increasingly widen. The debate about the future tax system is partly about whether the goals for the nation's tax system can be best achieved by reforming the current income tax so that it has a broader base and flatter rate schedule, or switching to some form of consumption tax. This testimony reviews the revenue contribution of the current individual income tax as well as its complexity, economic efficiency, equity, and taxpayer compliance issues; discusses some common dimensions to compare tax proposals; and draws some conclusions for tax reform. This statement is based on previously published GAO work and reviews of relevant literature.

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