Public finance is an important branch of economics. Over the years it has become more important, more controversial, and more complex. Much of the academic writing on it is highly theoretical, and it is often done by economists who have had little real world experience. Vito Tanzi has been continually engaged in this field for almost six decades, as a professor of public finance, a practitioner of it in many countries, and as a researcher, and has witnessed
first-hand the growing gap between theoretical work and the real life practice of public finance. Public finance has come to be increasingly influenced by the pursuit of multiple government goals and by the growing complexity that now characterizes fiscal policy and government programs in many countries.
Notably, the goal of simplicity has played only a small role in the practice of public finance and in academic work. Complexity puts a dense fog around many policies, making it difficult to predict and assess the results. This book aims to highlight to both economists and policymakers the need for simplicity in policies. It also aims to inform students of public finance and public policy about this growing problem and the need to pay more attention to it.