The Tax Policy Center has published A Preliminary Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans. Here is the abstract:
Tax and fiscal policy will loom large in the next president's domestic policy agenda. Nearly all of the tax cuts enacted since 2001 expire at the end of 2010 and the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) threatens to ensnare tens of millions of Americans. While a permanent fix palatable to both political parties has proven elusive, both candidates have proposed major tax changes. This report describes how we performed our modeling and analysis, outlines the major tax proposals, and discusses the implications of their policies for the revenue raised, taxpayer economic activity, and the distribution of the tax burden.
Here is the bottom line:
If enacted, the Obama and McCain tax plans would have radically different effects on the distribution of tax burdens in the United States. The Obama tax plan would make the tax system significantly more progressive by providing large tax breaks to those at the bottom of the income scale and raising taxes significantly on upper-income earners. The McCain tax plan would make the tax system more regressive, even compared with a system in which the 2001–06 tax cuts are made permanent. It would do so by providing relatively little tax relief to those at the bottom of the income scale while providing huge tax cuts to households at the very top of the income distribution.
Here is Howard Gleckman's perspective on the Tax Policy Center's Tax Vox Blog:
In the first detailed analysis of the Barack Obama and John McCain tax plans, the Tax Policy Center has run their proposals through the Big Computer and discovered that their schemes are, well, painfully predictable. Each would raise the national debt by trillions of dollars. Obama would use the money to provide modest tax cuts to low- and moderate-income people while imposing stiff tax hikes on the very wealthy. McCain would cut taxes a bit for the working-class and a lot for the rich.
Obama, who casts himself as an out-of-the box, post-partisan politician, has put together a fairly conventional Democratic tax plan. Despite McCain’s recent claim that Obama would raise taxes for all, it turns out that middle-class families would do better under Obama (who would cut their taxes by $1000 in 2009) than McCain (who would cut them by only $300). Obama’s generosity comes at a price, however, He’d raise the national debt by a staggering $3.3 trillion over the next decade, and that includes more than $900 billion in promised revenue raisers that TPC could not verify.
McCain, who once opposed President Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cut as a give-away to the rich, but now embraces them, has designed a plan more consistent with the New McCain than the old. It is as Republican a plan as Obama’s is Democratic. The top 20% of taxpayers get a 3% reduction in after-tax income in 2009, while the lowest-earning 60% would get less than 1%.
Joe Kristan wryly observes on Roth & Co.:
The only comfort is that they are both politicians, so there's a good chance they are lying.
Update: For the distribution analysis of the respective plans, see here. For further discussion, see: