t’s not easy to identify the worst international bureaucracy.
- The United Nations embraces some terrible ideas on a range of policies, though it is usually too incompetent to actually move policy in the wrong direction.
- The International Monetary Fund relentlessly pushes for higher taxes and even uses the lure of bailout cash to coerce nations into adopting bad policy.
- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also has a reflexive pro-tax bias and often uses blatantly dishonest arguments when pushing its statist agenda on nations around the world.
As you can see, it’s hard to figure out which bureaucracy is the worst.
I’ve solved this dilemma by allowing a rotation. Today, the OECD is at the top of my list.
That’s because the top tax official at that Paris-based bureaucracy, Pascal Saint-Amans, has a new article about goals for future tax policy.
…policy flexibility and agility may be what is needed to help restore confidence. …Governments should seize the opportunity to build a greener, more inclusive and more resilient economy. Rather than simply returning to business as usual, the goal should be to “build back better” and address some of the structural weaknesses that the crisis has laid bare.
So how do we get a “more resilient economy” with less “structural weakness”?
According to the bureaucrats at the OECD, we achieve that goal with higher taxes. I’m not joking. Here are some additional excerpts.
Today, taxes on polluting fuels are nowhere near the levels needed… Seventy percent of energy-related CO2 emissions from advanced and emerging economies are entirely untaxed.
Here’s a chart from the article showing how nations supposedly are under-taxing energy use.
But it’s not just energy taxes.
The OECD wants a bunch of other tax increases, including a digital tax deal that specifically targets America’s high-tech firms.
It’s also disturbing that the bureaucrats want higher taxes on “personal capital income,” particularly since even economists at the OECD have specifically warned that those types of taxes are particularly harmful to prosperity.
Fair burden sharing will also be central going forward. …consideration should be given to strengthening…social protection in the longer run. …Governments will need to find alternative sources of revenues. The taxation of property and personal capital income will have an important role to play… Rising pressure on public finances as well as increased demands for fair burden sharing should provide new impetus for reaching an agreement on digital taxation.
By the way, “social protection” is OECD-speak for redistribution spending. In other words, “fair burden sharing” means a bigger welfare state financed by ever-higher taxes.
I want to close by revisiting the topic of environmental taxation. If you peruse the above chart, you’ll see that the OECD wants all nations to impose (at a minimum) a €30-per-ton tax on carbon.
What would that imply for American taxpayers? Well, if we extrapolate from estimates by the Tax Policy Center and Tax Foundation, that would be a tax increase of more than $400-per-year for every man, woman, and child in the United States. That’s $1600 of additional tax for each family of four.
P.S. The OECD has traditionally tailored its analysis to favor Democrats, but even I am surprised that Saint-Amans used the Biden campaign slogan of “build back better” in his column. I’m sure that was no accident. The bureaucrats at the OECD must be quite confident that Biden will win. Or they must feel confident that Republicans will be too stupid to exact any revenge if Trump prevails (probably a safe assumption since Republicans gave the bureaucracy lots of American tax dollars even after a top OECD official compared Trump to Hitler).
P.P.S. To add insult to injury, OECD bureaucrats get tax-free salaries, so they have a special exemption from the bad policies they want for the rest of us.