In his 1993 book Costly Returns, Dr. James L. Payne documented the hidden costs of the U.S tax system and combined them into the only authoritative guide on the true costs of government. He concluded that for every dollar paid in taxes, Americans pay an additional 65 cents because of the significant related economic burdens. This research, however, has never been updated in the 20 years since the book’s publication. Doing so would provide a powerful case for reducing federal expenditures, and likely show that inefficiency and the total cost of government spending is increasing significantly.
In coordination with Dr. Payne, The Institute for Spending Reform will commence a study called The True Cost of Government. The initial task will be to update Dr. Payne’s study to account for the current cost of the U.S. tax system, and then subsequently examine the costs of distribution programs. Such costs include waiting times when applying for government services and the lost labor value caused by compliance. The objective is to produce an updated figure (like the 65 cents in 1993) for the real cost of the federal tax and spending system. By concretely defining the total cost of government, we can make a powerful case for reducing spending in all areas of the budget.
About Dr. Payne
A Dr. James L. Payne received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, and he has taught political science at Yale University, Wesleyan University, Johns Hopkins University, and Texas A & M University. Currently, Dr Payne is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Director of Lytton Research and Analysis in Sandpoint, ID.
His recent academic focus has been on the hidden costs of government taxation and spending. Dr. Payne has authored several books on a variety of topics such as Latin American politics, militarism, the history of force, welfare, social science methodology, voluntarism and volunteer groups, taxation, and the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Payne’s articles have appeared in The Independent Review, American Conservative, American Spectator, The Freeman, Policy Review, Reason, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune and other magazines and journals.