A number of people who are against high taxes believe, at the same time, in substantial tariffs on goods from other countries. Here’s the problem: a tariff is a tax, a tax on imports. Americans and producers in that country share the burden of the tax. And tariffs, like all other taxes, distort people’s decisions in ways that reduce wealth.

This is from David R. Henderson, “A Tariff Is a Tax,” TaxBytes, Institute for Policy Innovation, September 14, 2022.

Another excerpt:

If we buy a good mainly from China, and the U.S. government imposes a tariff on that Chinese good, the good will be more expensive. So, we’ll buy less from China and more from, say, Vietnam. This isn’t just hypothetical. During his time as president, Donald Trump raised tariffs on Chinese goods four times, raising the average U.S. tariff rate on imports from China from 3.1 percent to 21 percent. One result was that imports of manufactured goods from 14 Asian countries were $90 billion higher in 2021 than in 2018, and approximately half of that increase was from Vietnam.

When I did the research for this short piece, I was stunned by the fact that tariff rates on U.S. imports from China increased from 3.1 percent to 21 percent. I guess that’s what can happen when you raise a tax 4 times.

Read the whole thing, which is short.