In 1983, Ronald Reagan proposed eliminating the federal corporate income tax. Last week, Michael Boskin took up the charge. I have another idea: Get rid of the state corporate income tax. State corporate income taxes are lineal descendents of the federal version and share many of its flaws. They doubly tax income at the firm and individual level, penalize businesses that organize as corporations, and reward debt versus equity finance. They also are very sensitive to the business cycle, and tend to plunge when the economy sags.
As Congress debates the latest fiscal stimulus bill, commentators have been debating the effectiveness of the previous one. Much of this debate has focused on funds flowing through state capitals, cities, and towns. Depending on whom you ask, these funds have been a critical lifeline or a colossal waste of money. Both views are probably overblown. Last year’s stimulus worked pretty much like previous efforts to boost the economy through state and local governments.