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The 1966 Report of the Royal Commission on Taxation,1 established
with a sweeping mandate to examine the federal tax laws of Canada and
to make recommendations for their improvement, has few peers among
modern proposals for income tax reform. Its only rivals in this country
are the two collections of tax reform proposals assembled in 1955 and
1959 by the Joint Economic Committee and the House Ways and
Means Committee, which could range more speculatively over the tax
landscape because they consisted of separate papers submitted by a
medley of experts, but which for the same reason lacked the cohesiveness
that marks the Canadian Commission's program. The 1953-1955 reports
of the British Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income
are of comparable interest and quality, but they lack the boldness of
the Canadian report, and at points require such a familiarity with the
details of the United Kingdom's existing income tax law as to discourage
the outsider. The only other comparable projects with which
I am familiar are the 1949 recommendations of the Shoup Mission for
the reform of the Japanese tax system and Nicholas Kaldor's 1954 prescription
for India; neither has received the attention it deserves, the
former having been discounted because of its military sponsorship and
the latter because of an assumption that a plan devised for India would
inevitably be destined for exhibition rather than use and hence would
not have to be anchored in reality. The talent contributing to the
American Law Institute's Federal Income Tax Project of the early
1950's could have produced a landmark of analysis and innovation, but
its objective was "an improvement of the technical provisions of the
present income tax statute" and it was faithful to this limited commitment.

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