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The Concept of Strategic Tax Reform

Strategic tax reform is both an ethical principle and a practical framework for successful action. It says that the intelligent pursuit of national well-being must be the primary tenet of tax policy. The all-inclusive objective is a more productive and, therefore, larger economy that provides higher living standards for all Americans.

I have one yardstick by which I measure everything . . . Is it good for America?

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956

Purposes and Operations of CSTR-TRI

The Center For Strategic Tax Reform (CSTR) and the CSTR Tax Research Institute (TRI) are affiliated organizations that are collectively referred to either as the Center For Strategic Tax Reform (CSTR-TRI) or simply as CSTR-TRI.

  • CSTR is a nonprofit organization exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code.

  • TRI is a nonprofit educational and research organization exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Center For Strategic Tax Reform (CSTR-TRI) is an active organization whose purpose is to study, evaluate and develop in full operational detail all options for fundamentally restructuring the American tax system. Its ultimate goal is the implementation of economically rationale and efficient tax policies capable of operating in and supporting a complex economy in a competitive global marketplace.

CSTR-TRI realizes that its goal may not be achieved by a one-time fix. Rather, it may be the result of a steady, perhaps even gradual, process of change. The goal requires an understanding of both the fundamental economics involved and the political process within which these economics must operate.

  • CSTR-TRI primarily functions as a think tank and analytical resource for its members and a broad range of others interested in the vital subject of tax restructuring in the United States.

  • While CSTR acting alone is legally authorized to directly promote legislative change, it generally does not do so. CSTR-TRI's emphasis is on expert, objective analysis. The quality of its analytical and educational work is the primary source of its influence on the tax restructuring debate.

  • Because truly fundamental tax reform cannot succeed without the well-informed participation of influential people, CSTR-TRI members and invited guests meet each month in seminar format with government officials, members of Congress and their staffs, and academic and business leaders to review, debate and refine the economic, technical and political rationale of the U.S. tax system.

  • Both in the past and currently, CSTR has provided support in a variety of ways on most of the leading tax reform issues and proposals of the last two decades - including research, analysis and advice and assistance.

    • In the mid-1990s, CSTR provided technical support toward implementing the principles of the Strengthening of America Commission Report and advised and assisted in the related design of a bipartisan tax restructuring proposal supported by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and then Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA). This proposal, which became known as the "USA Tax," has provided the underlying framework and rationale for many subsequent tax reform proposals and ideas.

    • CSTR has been instrumental in the refinement of the USA Tax concept. The updated and simplified version of the USA Tax culminated in the "Simplified USA Tax" or "SUSAT" proposal supported by then Congressman Phil English (R-PA) that was introduced in each Congress from the late 1990s through 2009. Both the USA Tax and its simplified version illustrate the core issues associated with the design of any tax proposal and provide correct, concrete and straight-forward ways of dealing with these issues.

    • In addition, CSTR provided advice and assistance on a tax restructuring proposal supported by former Senator Danforth and former Senator Boren; analyzed other important tax restructuring proposals such as the Flat Tax; and developed a possible prototype for a replacement business tax and a replacement individual tax.

    • CSTR will continue to examine and analyze tax reform issues and proposals as a way of moving the tax reform process forward.

    • CSTR also recognizes the connection between tax reform and reform of Social Security. Because Social Security is an issue vital to Americans both personally and collectively, CSTR has undertaken to develop possible symbiotic options for tax reform and reform of retirement savings, including Social Security.

    • CSTR leaders and members have been requested to present testimony on numerous tax reform issues and proposals before the Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform (the Kemp Commission) and, most recently, the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. (Some of this testimony is available on the Testimony section.)

  • As an educational and research organization, TRI funds research and analysis on issues fundamental to the tax reform debate - for example, the true meaning of "income"; the importance of properly defining the "tax base"; the role of savings and investment; the relationship between reform of the tax code and reform of Social Security; the importance of neutrality in any tax system; the international components of tax reform; and the real-life consequences associated with the defining principles of any tax system.

  • TRI research has appeared in publications such as the Journal of International Taxation, Tax Notes, the Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily and the Washington Times. (For these and other works supported by CSTR-TRI, see our Publications section.)

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