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The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was widely heralded as the most significant change in our nation’s tax law since the income tax was extended to the masses during World War II. It was the crowning domestic policy achievement of President Ronald Reagan, who proclaimed it “the best antipoverty measure, the best pro-family measure and the best job-creation measure ever to come out of the Congress of the United States” (Reagan, 1986). This journal published a symposium on the Tax Reform Act in its first issue. The law’s rate reductions and base broadening reforms were mimicked throughout the countries belonging to the OECD (Sandford, 1993; Owens, 2005). Even at the time, however, reading the paeans to this legislation was like watching a Tennessee Williams play: something was terribly wrong, but nobody was talking about it. Two decades later, the changes wrought by the 1986 act have proven neither revolutionary nor stable.


Law | Law and Economics | Legal History | Tax Law