Thursday, October 28, 2004
Larry Zelenak (Duke) presents two papers today at the University of Washington as part of its Distinguished Scholars Series: Framing the Distributional Effects of the Bush Tax Cuts and Tax or Welfare? The Administration of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Here is the abstract of the Bush Tax Cuts paper:
In this article he explains how the distributional analysis of the income tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration depends on one's choice of analytical framework. Under the framework preferred by the administration - which compares percentage reductions in income tax liabilities of taxpayers at different income levels - the tax cuts have been mildly progressive. If the focus is shifted, however, to the percentage increases in after-tax incomes attributable to the cuts, the cuts appear regressive. Even greater regressivity appears if the focus is on the distribution of raw dollars of tax cuts. Under the most comprehensive analysis of all - which considers the net effect of tax reductions and spending cuts necessitated by the tax reductions - recent legislation again appears to favor the rich at the expense of other taxpayers. After the discussion of analytical frameworks, the article considers some particular distributional aspects of recent tax legislation, relating to the alternative minimum tax, Social Security taxes, and the increasing inequality in the distribution of pretax income. It concludes with some speculation as to why the public has been so accepting of tax cuts skewed in favor of the rich.