Hypothetical about tax revenues

You are the Tax Czar for life of a typical Western democracy. Pick a year far into the future, say 2025. Your goal is to maximize tax revenues in 2025.

What policies would you enact today to achieve that goal?

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Above all, maintain legitimacy

Above all, maintain the legitimacy of taxation. Control the schools and media. Year by year, extend the tax system incrementally as much as you can get away with. If there is a crisis of legitimacy, back off a little by giving an arcane exception to whoever is the most vocal complainer. Coordinate with tax czars from other countries to make sure there are no cartel busters. Then, if there is some unexpected growth in any sector or region, you are ready to take it.

I'm guessing you expected an answer that it would be better to allow high growth in the economy by having a low-tax regime, and get a small percent of a huge number in 2025 rather than a large percent of a small number. But this risks the economy suddenly expanding in a tax-free direction and the wealth being used to find ways to avoid the old, inefficient sectors that are still taxed.

As an example, think of what happened to the lucrative tariffs on international long distance telephony once Internet communications developed.

A tax czar is a bureaucrat, and is more motivated by avoiding criticism than by scoring a risky win. He or she would worry about missing out on the chance to tax a lucrative new sector, even if the taxes on relatively shrinking sectors (automobiles? employment? domestic capital markets?) were still showing absolute growth. Trying to guess the economic mix in 10 years is too much uncertainty for a bureaucrat to handle. Grabbing as much as you can get away with as soon as you can is safer for your career.

I'm guessing you expected an

I'm guessing you expected an answer that it would be better to allow high growth in the economy by having a low-tax regime, and get a small percent of a huge number in 2025 rather than a large percent of a small number.

That's my solution, approximately. Not just low taxes but low regulation, low licensing, low eminent domain seizures, and so on. Maintaining legitimacy doesn't require the punishing taxation of today. The lower taxes are, the more reasonable they will seem and therefore the more legitimate they will be considered.

tax the other guy

First, I'd impose a 15-20% tariff on all imports -- and eliminate most of the voluminous tariff schedules (but see below). Reason: corporations can play tricks with subsidiaries by declaring a huge markup by a low tax subsidiary so the first world office shows no profit. With a percent based tariff, the company gets penalized for the practice. However, a company can still declare intermediate goods coming from offshore subsidiaries to be low (to avoid the tariff) but then face a lower cost basis which leads to higher corporate taxes here.

Second: tax marijuana. Duh.

Third: use the tax basis for appreciated gifts for charities. The tax code should be neutral for whether you sell the item and give the money or if you just give in kind. Currently, you get a greater than 100% deduction for giving in kind.

Fourth: impose a hefty tariff on oil imported from outside NAFTA countries. Let's tax those who hate us. And it's a user fee for U.S. efforts to keep the Persian Gulf open.

Fifth: merge FICA, Medicare and income tax into a single, flat rate tax.

Sixth: no personal exemption for non-citizens. If it is still profitable for you to come here, fine. But even if you are a low wage laborer, you have to pay for your share of the infrastructure if you are not a citizen.

Seventh: a property tax on old copyrights. If Disney wants retroactive protection for Mickey Mouse, Disney can pay for the priviledge.

Eliminate cash money, go 100% electronic except for change

Half the US economy, more of the world economy is under the table. Less than 2% of US money is cash and half of that is outside the country. It is cash that fuels the drug and gambling business.

Withdraw all paper cash money and go 100% electronic transfer. Create an electronic transfer tax, half from the sender and half from the recipient. Cancel all income taxes. Issue coins up to $20 denomination, enough to buy breakfast, not enough to bribe congress.

first of all, do you mean

first of all, do you mean maximize from a percentage of production collected pov, a quantity collected pov, or relative to annual government spending? Because I'd say that a government which only needs to spend 40 billion a year, but takes in 100 billion has really maximized revenues. This being said I'd do the obvious thing; shrink the hell out of our bloated federal monster. (I know this wouldn't be within the confines of my tax czar powers, but I'm now speaking in a somewhat generalized sense) The above having been done, I'd do what one of the commentators above suggested, drastically simplify and shrink the tax burden across all levels, take away complex cumbersome levies such as the income tax system, and replace them with a very small but highly frequent tax on some aspect of the economy which is set to grow drastically from my simplified regulatory regime. Currently something like 45 to 50% of the domestic output is swallowed by a machinery that creates absolutely no wealth. This is essentially like taking 50% of your productively investible earnings and using them as toilet paper. This 50% also doesn't account for all the would be economic activity which simply doesn't occur due to heavy regulations, etc. Eliminating these detriments in a country known for strong worth ethic and capital attraction (such as is the case with nearly any western country) could increase total wealth production immensely. Tax this increased production, but in a way that doesn't cause it to stop continuing.