Category Archives: Taxation

Millionaires or Job Creators: What Really Happens to Employment Growth When You Stick It to the Rich?

Source: Ahiteme N. Houndonougbo, Matthew N. Murray, Public Finance Review, Online First, Published September 27, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We provide empirical evidence on the consequences of relatively higher tax burdens on the rich for aggregate employment growth using a newly constructed time series for 1947 through 2011 derived from the US Statistics of Income. In response to shifts in the relative federal tax burden toward the rich, we find statistically significant positive effects on employment growth in the short run and some evidence of negative effects on employment growth in the long run. Among our robustness checks, we use the Romer and Romer narrative record analysis to restrict our sample to a period of exclusively exogenous tax changes. The results hold in the restricted sample and are also consistent across alternative specifications and estimation methods, including unrestricted and Bayesian vector autoregressive.

A Preliminary Analysis of the Unified Framework

Source: Tax Policy Center, Research report, September 29, 2017

From the abstract:
The Tax Policy Center has produced preliminary estimates of the potential impact proposals included in the “Unified Framework for Fixing our Broken Tax Code.” We find they would reduce federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over ten years and $3.2 trillion over the second decade (not including any dynamic feedback). In 2018, all income groups would see their average taxes fall, but some taxpayers in each group would face tax increases. Those with the very highest incomes would receive the biggest tax cuts. The tax cuts are smaller as a percentage of income in 2027, and taxpayers in the 80th to 95th income percentiles would, on average, experience a tax increase.

Related:
Indiana’s Tax Cuts Under Mike Pence Are Not a Model for the Nation
Source: Carl Davis, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Just Taxes blog, September 29, 2017
Trump Hands 80 Percent of Proposed Tax Cut to Top 1 Percent
Source: Noah Lanard, Mother Jones, September 29, 2017

New study shows the super-rich will end up getting $1 million per year.

Giving or Getting: New York’s Balance of Payments with the Federal Government

Source: Donald J. Boyd, Lucy Dadayan, and Jim DeWan, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, September 2017

From the press release:
Today, the Rockefeller Institute of Government released a new report, Giving or Getting: New York’s Balance of Payments with the Federal Government, to examine what states gave in tax dollars versus what states got from the federal government.
Modeled off of the “Fisc” reports issued by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the former United States senator from New York, the Rockefeller Institute of Government report found that:
• Thirteen states had a “negative” balance of payment with the federal government. From worst to least they are: New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, Texas, North Dakota, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nebraska, and Wyoming. New York’s residents and economy contributed approximately $48 billion more in taxes to the federal government than New York received in federal spending —- the largest of any state.
• New York’s negative balance of payments roughly equals the combined shortfalls of 2nd ranked New Jersey and 3rd ranked Illinois. California and Massachusetts rounded out the list of top five states.
• On a per-capita basis, New York had the third-worst balance of payments, after New Jersey and Connecticut. New York’s people and economy paid the federal government $2,425 more per person than they received. By contrast, the average state experienced a positive balance of payments of about $1,305 per capita.
• New York’s negative balance of payments is driven primarily by federal taxes, rather than spending. Payments from New York to the federal government were $12,820 per capita, or approximately $3,401 higher than the national average.
• Federal spending in New York was $329 lower than the U.S. average, adding to the revenue disparity, but the revenue difference is much larger than the spending difference. ….

Can State Tax Policy Increase Economic Activity and Reduce Inequality?

Source: Harvey Cutler, Martin Shields and Stephen Davies, Growth and Change, Early View, September 10, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Previous research shows that when changes in national commodity and income tax rates affect labor supply decisions differently, relative rates can be altered to increase welfare. In the U.S., 40 states impose both a sales and income tax; however, the reliance varies widely. This paper uses a computable general equilibrium model to examine tax policy changes in Colorado. The findings suggest that the revenue neutral changes to income and sales tax rates can affect both the level of economic activity and the distribution of income. When labor force participation is highly sensitive to income tax rate changes—which this paper suggests is the case—progressive changes to Colorado’s tax policy changes can both reduce inequality and increase output and employment.

Why American Workers Pay Twice as Much in Taxes as Wealthy Investors

Source: Ben Steverman, Bloomberg, September 12, 2017

What’s best for the country? What’s fair? And will either matter when Congress takes up tax reform this fall? ….

…. Let’s say you and I are neighbors. You’re an emergency room doctor, and I don’t work, thanks to a pile of money my grandparents left me.

You spend your days and nights stitching up gunshot wounds and helping children survive asthma attacks. I’ve gotten really good at World of Warcraft, winning EBay auctions, and frying shishito peppers to just the right crispiness.

Let’s also say we both report $300,000 in income to the Internal Revenue Service this year. Who pays more in taxes?

You do, by a lot. You owe the IRS about $38,500 more, assuming each of us pays the maximum with no special deductions. I also have more flexibility to lower my burden with tax planning strategies and other tricks, and I get to skip about $24,000 in payroll taxes that you and your employer must fork over each year. ….

…. By taxing investors less, some economists argue, you give taxpayers more of an incentive to save. The more savings in the economy, the more capital that companies and entrepreneurs can invest in ways that expand the economy and make workers more productive. Everyone, including workers, wins, according to this theory.

But there are potential negative consequences to such a policy. By lowering taxes on investors, you shift more of the tax burden to well-paid workers. This may give highly skilled and creative people a disincentive to work hard or improve their skills so they can earn more money, while also giving children of wealthy parents another reason not to work at all. ….

A symposium on business tax reform

Source: Alan Auerbach, Martin Feldstein, Gita Gopinath, and James Hines, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (BPEA), September 7, 2017

The U.S. corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world and much has been made about the prospects of corporate tax reform in 2017. Both House Republicans and President Trump have released their visions of changes to corporate taxes. But what would these proposals mean for the economy? Are they targeting the aspects of the tax code that need changing?

At the Fall 2017 Brookings Papers on Economic Activity conference, leading tax policy experts discussed these issues among others, including:

Alan Auerbach, of the University of California, Berkeley, attempts to demystify the Destination-Based Cash-Flow Tax (DBCFT), which he says is poorly understood by many in government, the business community, and economics.

Martin Feldstein, of Harvard University, argues the coming year offers the opportunity to fix problems of the corporate tax system that accumulated over many decades and suggests five areas for improvement.

Gita Gopinath, of Harvard University, examines the macroeconomic effects of a border-adjustment tax and looks at whether its possible for a border adjustment tax to be revenue neutral.

James Hines, of the University of Michigan, looks at the U.S. corporate tax rate, which is the highest among OECD countries, and finds that despite significant deductions and exclusions, the rate places high burdens on U.S. businesses.

Corporate Tax Cuts Boost CEO Pay, Not Jobs – 24th Annual Executive Excess

Source: Sarah Anderson, Sam Pizzigati, Institute for Policy Studies, August 30, 2017

From the summary:
House Speaker Paul Ryan is proposing to cut the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. President Trump wants to slash the rate even further, to just 15 percent. Their core argument? Lowering the tax burden will lead to more and better jobs. To investigate this claim, this report is the first to analyze the job creation records of the 92 publicly held U.S. corporations that reported a U.S. profit every year from 2008 through 2015 and paid less than 20 percent of these earnings in federal income tax. Did these reduced tax rates actually lead to greater employment within the 92 firms? The data we have compiled give a definitive — and sobering — answer.

Nearly Half of Trump ’s Proposed Tax Cuts Go to People Making More than $1 Million Annually

Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), August 2017

From the summary:
A tiny fraction of the U.S. population (one-half of one percent) earns more than $1 million annually. But in 2018 this elite group would receive 48.8 percent of the tax cuts proposed by the Trump administration. A much larger group, 44.6 percent of Americans, earn less than $45,000, but would receive just 4.4 percent of the tax cuts.

The first group, the millionaires, would receive an average tax cut of more than $217,000 in 2018, equal to 7 percent of their income. The second group, those making less than $45,000, would receive an average tax cut of just $230, equal to less than one percent of their income….
Related:
Trump’s $4.8 Trillion Tax Proposals Would Not Benefit All States or Taxpayers Equally
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), July 2017