Tuesday, June 7, 2005
Deborah A. Geier (Cleveland State) has published Unsolicited Advice for Democrats, 107 Tax Notes 1308 (June 6, 2005), also available on the Tax Analysts web site as Doc 2005-10749, 2005 TNT 108-21:
Democrats should focus on the following statement: The distribution of the tax burden worsens inequality because there is less income inequality before annual tax bills are paid than after they are paid. That's the key point that should be stressed, over and over again, like a broken record (in the days of yore before CDs): The government imposes taxes in such a way that the distribution of income is more unequal than if the government imposed no taxes at all. Congressional Budget Office data discussed below shows that the gap (which is increasing) in pretax income between the very wealthy and the rest is smaller than the gap in after-tax income. Thus, the distribution of the tax burden itself is increasing inequality. I need to stress here that I am not talking about using the tax system to reduce income inequality, which is a use of the tax system that is utterly anathema to conservatives and libertarians alike. What I am saying here is that the tax system should be structured so that the distribution of the aggregate tax burden itself does not actually worsen income inequality. In other words, the government should not be intervening through the tax system to make the gap between the very rich and everyone else actually greater than it otherwise is (in the absence of tax). I think most Americans, whether Democrat or Republican (or Rockefeller Republican), would agree with that statement.