Chapter 5: Temporary tax legislation
While temporary fiscal policies are at least as old as the American constitution, the frequency and intensity of their strategic use in the United States has sensationally increased in the past fifteen years. At the beginning of 2000, more than one hundred American tax provisions were scheduled to expire, including some of the largest tax cuts in history. Only a decade prior, less than two dozen relatively inconsequential provisions were scheduled to expire. The increase from 1990 to 2000 continued into the following decade: during fiscal year 2011, 251 tax provisions were scheduled to expire (Kysar 2011: 1010). As a result, there has been a steady output of legal scholarship on temporary taxation, which, in the main, observes that temporary timing rules promote irresponsible fiscal imbalances for three reasons. First, temporary timing rules ease the passage of spending increases and tax cuts. Because temporary tax legislation lasts for a relatively shorter time if it is not extended, it more easily satisfies current budget rules and is less opposed by opposition legislators and citizens. It therefore is more likely to become law. Second, most of the scholarship recognizes that temporary tax legislation easily circumvents budgetary rules that require offsetting, i.e. concomitant increases in taxation or reductions in outstanding spending, that are, in theory, supposed to render new spending increases or tax cuts budget neutral.
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