On April 15, American minds turn to taxes, a subject that has inspired a vast number of Slate stories over the years. In 2003, Michael Kinsley anatomized the complicated Bush tax plan. That same year, Timothy Noah called on President Bush to repeal his beloved tax cuts. (Noah wrote about the tax cuts again and again and again and again and again and again.) Also in 2003, Kinsley explored the “new tyranny of the rich” at work in Bush’s tax plans. Last year, Steven E. Landsburg disagreed, writing that the tax cuts were unfair to the rich. In 1996, Landsburg proposed capping the maximum tax at five times the average rate .
Slate writers and editors have also approached taxes from historical and economic angles. In 1997, Jodie T. Allen delivered a very brief history of taxes. “Can Cutting Taxes Speed up Growth?” wondered Herbert Stein in 1999. In 2000, Emily Yoffe explained how tax cuts work. A few years earlier, Robert Shapiro looked at how we might know whether a tax cut is working. In 2002, he said a prayer for the death of the flat tax. The following year, Daniel Gross wrote that cutting marginal tax rates was a growth catalyst for an earlier era. In 1999, James Surowiecki predicted the demise of the tax-cutter.
Two particular taxes have been perennial grist for the Slate mill. In 1997, Michael Kinsley and John C. Goodman debated the capital-gains tax. Earlier, Kinsley stood up for that tax on his own. In 2000, James Q. Wilson attacked the estate tax, while Kinsley supported it. Franklin Foer explained the estate tax in 1997, and Slate has twice published debates about the issue: In 1997, Bob Packwood and James K. Glassman went at it; in 2001, it was William H. Gates Sr. and Pete du Pont.
Slate has also assessed the political value of taxes. In 2002, Jacob Weisberg argued that taxes could be a winning issue for Democrats. In 1997, Weisberg proposed a different kind of tax reform. William Saletan examined the rhetorical strategies of Democrats and Republicans in addressing taxation in 2001 and again in 2002. The following year, Saletan took on Bush’s plan to alleviate the tax burden on seniors. In 2001, Michael Kinsley attacked attempts by the president to attribute economic strength to his own tax policies. Last year at crunch time, Daniel Gross wrote that the Alternative Minimum Tax was disproportionately, and perhaps punitively, targeting Democratic taxpayers.