The Concept of Strategic Tax Reform
Strategic tax reform is both an ethical principle and a practical
framework for successful action. It says that the intelligent
pursuit of national well-being must be the primary tenet of
tax policy. The all-inclusive objective is a more productive
and, therefore, larger economy that provides higher living
standards for all Americans.
I have one yardstick by which I measure
everything . . . Is it good for America?
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1956
Purposes and Operations of CSTR-TRI
The Center For Strategic Tax Reform (CSTR) and the CSTR Tax
Research Institute (TRI) are affiliated organizations that
are collectively referred to either as the Center For Strategic
Tax Reform (CSTR-TRI) or simply as CSTR-TRI.
- CSTR is a nonprofit organization exempt from tax under
Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code.
- TRI is a nonprofit educational and research organization
exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal
The Center For Strategic Tax Reform (CSTR-TRI) is an active
organization whose purpose is to study, evaluate and develop
in full operational detail all options for fundamentally restructuring
the American tax system. Its ultimate goal is the implementation
of economically rationale and efficient tax policies capable
of operating in and supporting a complex economy in a competitive
CSTR-TRI realizes that its goal may not be achieved by a one-time
fix. Rather, it may be the result of a steady, perhaps even
gradual, process of change. The goal requires an understanding
of both the fundamental economics involved and the political
process within which these economics must operate.
- CSTR-TRI primarily functions as a think tank and analytical
resource for its members and a broad range of others interested
in the vital subject of tax restructuring in the United
- While CSTR acting alone is legally authorized to directly
promote legislative change, it generally does not do so.
CSTR-TRI's emphasis is on expert, objective analysis. The
quality of its analytical and educational work is the primary
source of its influence on the tax restructuring debate.
- Because truly fundamental tax reform cannot succeed without
the well-informed participation of influential people, CSTR-TRI
members and invited guests meet each month in seminar format
with government officials, members of Congress and their
staffs, and academic and business leaders to review, debate
and refine the economic, technical and political rationale
of the U.S. tax system.
- Both in the past and currently, CSTR has provided support
in a variety of ways on most of the leading tax reform issues
and proposals of the last two decades - including research,
analysis and advice and assistance.
- In the mid-1990s, CSTR provided technical support
toward implementing the principles of the Strengthening
of America Commission Report and advised and assisted
in the related design of a bipartisan tax restructuring
proposal supported by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and
then Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA). This proposal, which became
known as the "USA Tax," has provided the underlying
framework and rationale for many subsequent tax reform
proposals and ideas.
- CSTR has been instrumental in the refinement of the
USA Tax concept. The updated and simplified version
of the USA Tax culminated in the "Simplified USA
Tax" or "SUSAT" proposal supported by
then Congressman Phil English (R-PA) that was introduced
in each Congress from the late 1990s through 2009. Both
the USA Tax and its simplified version illustrate the
core issues associated with the design of any tax proposal
and provide correct, concrete and straight-forward ways
of dealing with these issues.
- In addition, CSTR provided advice and assistance on
a tax restructuring proposal supported by former Senator
Danforth and former Senator Boren; analyzed other important
tax restructuring proposals such as the Flat Tax; and
developed a possible prototype for a replacement business
tax and a replacement individual tax.
- CSTR will continue to examine and analyze tax reform
issues and proposals as a way of moving the tax reform
- CSTR also recognizes the connection between tax reform
and reform of Social Security. Because Social Security
is an issue vital to Americans both personally and collectively,
CSTR has undertaken to develop possible symbiotic options
for tax reform and reform of retirement savings, including
- CSTR leaders and members have been requested to present
testimony on numerous tax reform issues and proposals
before the Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and
Means Committee, the National Commission on Economic
Growth and Tax Reform (the Kemp Commission) and, most
recently, the President's Advisory Panel on Federal
Tax Reform. (Some of this testimony is available on
the Testimony section.)
- As an educational and research organization, TRI funds
research and analysis on issues fundamental to the tax reform
debate - for example, the true meaning of "income";
the importance of properly defining the "tax base";
the role of savings and investment; the relationship between
reform of the tax code and reform of Social Security; the
importance of neutrality in any tax system; the international
components of tax reform; and the real-life consequences
associated with the defining principles of any tax system.
- TRI research has appeared in publications such as the
Journal of International Taxation, Tax Notes, the Wall Street
Journal, Investor's Business Daily and the Washington Times.
(For these and other works supported by CSTR-TRI, see our