In light of the impending Obama Tax Hikes, Mercatus Center senior research fellow Veronique de Rugy created the chart to the right illustrating Hauser’s Law which Standford University professor Kurt Hauser recapped in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal:
Over the past six decades, tax revenues as a percentage of GDP have averaged just under 19% regardless of the top marginal personal income tax rate. The top marginal rate has been as high as 92% (1952-53) and as low as 28% (1988-90). This observation was first reported in an op-ed I wrote for this newspaper in March 1993. A wit later dubbed this “Hauser’s Law.”
Ms. de Rugy’s chart comparing the top marginal personal income tax rates to tax revenues as a percentage of GDP over the past 80 years is very similar to one we produced earlier this year here. And here is another chart that tells the same story but with the corporate tax:
Professor Hauser explains the behavior behind the data shown in these charts:
Over this period there have been more than 30 major changes in the tax code including personal income tax rates, corporate tax rates, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, investment tax credits, depreciation schedules, Social Security taxes, and the number of tax brackets among others. Yet during this period, federal government tax collections as a share of GDP have moved within a narrow band of just under 19% of GDP.
Why? Higher taxes discourage the “animal spirits” of entrepreneurship. When tax rates are raised, taxpayers are encouraged to shift, hide and underreport income. Taxpayers divert their effort from pro-growth productive investments to seeking tax shelters, tax havens and tax exempt investments. This behavior tends to dampen economic growth and job creation. Lower taxes increase the incentives to work, produce, save and invest, thereby encouraging capital formation and jobs. Taxpayers have less incentive to shelter and shift income.
Our federal deficit problem can not be solved by raising taxes. The expected revenues will never materialize. Cutting spending, shrinking government, and allowing for more economic growth is the only way we can climb out of the hole we are in.