What is comprehensive tax reform?
The term refers to broad, sweeping changes to the tax system. What qualifies as “comprehensive” is a judgment call.
Rather than taking a piecemeal approach, making small changes to provisions of the tax code, comprehensive reform would address the inequities, complexities, and inefficiencies of the entire tax system. The last comprehensive reform to the US tax system took place in 1986, when the Tax Reform Act lowered income tax rates and broadened the tax base.
Some contemporary proposals are really more of the same, lowering tax rates without losing revenue by broadening the base. Some proposals would scrap the current system entirely, replacing the income tax with a consumption-based tax system. But the broad goals of greater fairness, efficiency, and simplicity remain the same.
Republican Staff of the US Senate Committee on Finance. 2014. Comprehensive Tax Reform for 2015 and Beyond. Washington, DC: Republican Staff of the US Senate Committee on Finance.
Sherlock, Molly, and Mark P. Keightley. 2014. Tax Reform in the 114th Congress: An Overview of Proposals. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.