Law School Professor Cites Morality As Criterion for Federal Tax Reform

A Law School professor stressed morality and equity as major criteria for the evaluation of tax reform in a statement he made Monday before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Stanley S. Surrey, Smith Professor of Law, testified that tax reform is a moral issue and not simply a technical exercise.

"It is an effort to restore fundamental morality to a tax system by ending both its unfairness and the cynical, immoral way the tax game is played today by those with money and knowledgeable advisers," he added.

Surrey, a member of a five-man panel reporting on the objectives and approaches to tax reform and its simplification, said that the elimination of inefficiency and unfairness in the present tax structure is the major objective of tax reform.

The Government creates indirect subsidies via loopholes, and the richest people benefit the most, Surrey said. Fifty billion dollars -- one quarter of the present Federal budget--is spent on these indirect subsidies.

Capital gains income is not taxed as heavily as wages, and a tax credit is allowed for an individual or corporation losing money in one enterprise while making profits in others, Surrey added.

"As a result of these tax shelters and other tax escapes, persons with actual incomes in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, either pay no income tax or pay at a rate less than that of skilled or semi-skilled workers," he said.

The Ways and Means Committee is in the midst of eight-week long hearings on tax reform, with ten panels of selected experts.

Surrey said yesterday that he felt that Wilbur D. Mills (D-Ark.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee thought that something ought to be done about tax shelters and estate taxes