Paul L. Caron

Friday, February 24, 2017

Pew:  How Governments Support Higher Education Through The Tax Code

Pew Charitable Trusts, How Governments Support Higher Education Through the Tax Code (2017):

To maximize the impact of higher education investments and achieve desired policy goals, policymakers should have knowledge of the full range of assistance provided to institutions and students. This means having an understanding of the billions of dollars made available through spending programs and the tax code. However, too frequently these two types of support are not considered in tandem, and most states lack the cost estimates they would need to determine how tax provisions for higher education compare in size to other postsecondary investments.

The federal government and the states each invested more than $70 billion in higher education-related spending programs, excluding loans, in academic year 2014, the latest year for which data are available. But that figure, as substantial as it is, does not paint a full picture of federal and state investments in higher education. It excludes the billions of dollars that the federal government and the 41 states plus the District of Columbia that levy personal income taxes provide to students and their families through tax expenditures—such as credits for tuition and college savings incentives—to help offset postsecondary costs.

Figure 1

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February 24, 2017 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Role Of State And Local Taxes In Income Inequality

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Fairness Matters: A Chart Book on Who Pays State and Local Taxes:

There is significant room for improvement in state and local tax codes. Income tax laws are filled with top-heavy exemptions and deductions. Sales tax bases are too narrow and need updating. And overall tax collections are often inadequate in the short-run and unsustainable in the long-run. In this light, the growing interest in tax reform among state lawmakers across the country is welcome news.

Too often, however, would-be tax reformers have proposed policy changes that would worsen one of the most undesirable features of state and local tax systems: their lopsided impact on taxpayers at varying income levels. Nationwide, the bottom 20 percent of earners pay 10.9 percent of their income in state and local taxes each year. Middle-income families pay a slightly lower 9.4 percent average rate. But the top 1 percent of earners pay just 5.4 percent of their income in such taxes. This is the definition of regressive, upside-down tax policy.


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January 30, 2017 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Just 8 Men Own The Same Wealth As Half The World


OxFam, An Economy for the 99%: It’s Time to Build a Human Economy That Benefits Everyone, Not Just the Privileged Few:

New estimates show that just eight men [Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Amancio Ortega Gaona, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim Helú, Mark Zuckerberg] own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society – especially the poorest – suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point.

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January 18, 2017 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Role Of State Estate And Inheritance Taxes After Repeal Of The Federal Estate Tax

Institute  on Taxation and Economic Policy, State Estate and Inheritance Taxes:

For much of the last century, estate and inheritance taxes have played an important role in fostering strong communities by promoting equality of opportunity and helping states adequately fund public services. While many of the taxes levied by state and local governments fall most heavily on low-income families, only the very wealthy pay estate and inheritance taxes.

Changes in the federal estate tax in recent years, however, caused states to reevaluate the structure of their estate and inheritance taxes. Unfortunately, the trend of late among states has tended toward weakening or completely eliminating them.


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December 27, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oxfam:  The Dangerous Race To The Corporate Tax Bottom

OxfamOxfam, Tax Battles: The Dangerous Race to the Bottom on Corporate Tax (summary) (methodology):

Collecting tax is one of the key means by which governments are able to address poverty and inequality. But big business is dodging tax on an industrial scale, depriving governments across the globe of the money they need to address poverty and invest in healthcare, education and jobs. This report exposes the world’s worst corporate tax havens — extreme examples of a destructive race to the bottom on corporate tax which has seen governments across the globe slash corporate tax bills in an attempt to attract business. It calls on governments to work together to put a stop to this before it is too late.

Table 1

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December 14, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (7)

Mark Mazur To Replace Len Burman As Director Of Tax Policy Center

MazurWall Street Journal, Treasury Tax Policy Chief to Lead Tax Policy Center Think Tank:

The top tax policy expert at the U.S. Treasury Department will take over the Tax Policy Center, the nonprofit Washington think tank best known for its analyses of political and congressional tax proposals.

Mark Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy, will become the center’s director on Feb. 1, the group announced today. The Tax Policy Center is a project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, and it operates a model that allows policymakers to see the impact of tax plans on different income groups.

Mr. Mazur, an economist, has had a long career in the government, including a stint as the Internal Revenue Service’s director of research, analysis and statistics. President Barack Obama nominated him to his current job, which he has held since 2012.

Tax Vox:  Mark Mazur to Take Over as TPC Director, by Leonard E. Burman:

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December 14, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Country-By-Country Tax Reporting And Global Inequality

Tax Justice NetworkTax Justice Network, Country-By-Country Reporting: How Restricted Access Exacerbates Global Inequalities in Taxing Rights:

Fully public country-by-country reporting would enable a dramatic shift in the accountability of both multinationals and tax jurisdictions. Estimates of the losses due to tax avoidance imply that lower-income countries would benefit disproportionately, as this transparency would offer powerful leverage against the current, highly unequal global distribution of taxing rights over multinationals. The OECD’s welcome adoption of the Tax Justice Network’s original proposal is, however, critically undermined by the decision to impose multiple limits on access to the data. This paper explores these limits, and demonstrates how the resulting unequal access is likely to exacerbate, rather than ameliorate that inequality in taxing rights.

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December 14, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Batchelder:  How To Strengthen Wealth Transfer Taxation

2016-Delivering-equitable-growthLily L. Batchelder (NYU), The 'Silver Spoon' Tax: How to Strengthen Wealth Transfer Taxation, in Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Delivering Equitable Growth: Strategies for the Next Administration (Fall 2016):

Wealth transfer taxes are a critical policy tool for mitigating economic inequality, including inequality of opportunity. They are also relatively efficient. This short essay summarizes why and how wealth transfer taxes should be strengthened. Reform options that our next President should consider include increasing the wealth transfer tax rate, broadening the base, repealing stepped-up basis, addressing talking points against wealth transfer taxes with little or no factual basis, and converting the estate and gift taxes into a direct tax on the recipients of large inheritances. ...

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November 10, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tax Reform For Our Century

Room to GrowRyan Ellis (Conservative Reform Network), Tax Reform For Our Century:

In his book as part of the Room To Grow series, Ryan Ellis identifies four fundamental flaws that beset America’s current tax code and offers principled, practical solutions to reform the system.

First, our business tax code is a barrier to growth, replete with tax rates that are among the highest in the developed world, often approaching 50 percent. The code also levies multiple layers of taxation against certain kinds of income and imposes an arbitrary, punitive system that inhibits business investment. To reform the business tax code, Ellis proposes several solutions, including establishing a lower, more competitive tax rate, reducing taxes on capital gains, and allowing businesses to deduct 100 percent of their investments in the year they are made.

Second, the tax code burdens middle-class families, particularly in the form of payroll taxes and a low, per-child tax credit, which hasn’t been increased since 2001. To provide them with much needed relief, Ellis offers several suggestions, including reducing the payroll tax and increasing the per-child tax credit.

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October 30, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 10, 2016

33% Of $800 Million California Film Tax Credits Went To Projects That Would Have Been Made In The State Anyway

Following up on my previous post, Starstruck States Squander $10 Billion In Film Tax Incentives Producing Minimal Economic Returns:  California Legislative Analyst's Office, California's First Film Tax Credit Program:

Figure 1California provides tax incentives for qualified film and television productions to be made in the state. The first film tax credit program was adopted in 2009 and provided $800 million ($100 million per year over eight years) in credits to selected feature films and television projects. In 2014, the Legislature created a new film tax credit program that increased the available amount of tax credits to $330 million per year—beginning in the 2015–16 fiscalyear—and modified the program in various ways.

In this report, as required by law, we evaluate the economic effects and the administration of the first film tax credit program passed in 2009. We find that about one–third of the film and television projects receiving incentives under this program would probably have been made in California anyway. We suspect that this level of “windfall benefits” to some credit recipients may be low compared to other tax credits, which would suggest that the first film tax credit program targeted the types of production vulnerable to being filmed outside the state relatively well.

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October 10, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Goldilocks Meets Private Equity: Taxing Carried Interest Just Right

Tax Polcy Center Logo (2017)Donald Marron (Tax Policy Center), Goldilocks Meets Private Equity: Taxing Carried Interest Just Right:

Controversy rages about how to tax carried interest. One view sees carry as compensation that should be taxed like other labor income. Another sees carry as a reward for financial risk-taking that should be taxed like capital income. A third sees carry as creating a costly tax arbitrage. In this paper, Donald Marron shows how we can reconcile these three views. Current practice taxes carry too little. Treating it as labor income without other reforms taxes it too much. To tax carried interest just right, it should be labor income for managers and deductible against ordinary income for investors.

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October 7, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

2016 International Tax Competitiveness Ranking: U.S. Is 5th From The Bottom

ITCPress Release:

[T]he Tax Foundation released the third annual International Tax Competitiveness Index. Once again, the United States ranks among the bottom 5 countries with the 5th least competitive tax system in the OECD. Only Greece, Portugal, Italy, and France have less competitive tax codes. On the other end of the spectrum, Estonia takes the number one spot once again, with New Zealand and Latvia having the second and third most competitive tax systems, respectively.

Table 5

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October 6, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Top 1% Get 17% Of Income, 27% Of Tax Expenditures

1%Bloomberg, How the IRS Helps the Rich Get Richer:

The top 1 percent gets the most from federal tax breaks, a new report shows, fueling election-year outrage over income inequality. ...

The top 1 percent of Americans as measured by income rake in 17 percent of all U.S. income on an annual basis—before taxes, of course. And that caveat is important, according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center (TPC), because that select group of citizens gets 27 percent of the tax breaks doled out by the federal government.

The TPC’s calculations show an estimated $1.17 trillion in federal revenue last year going to individual tax expenditures. ... While the wealthy see an outsize benefit compared with their share, the lowest-income households get just about 4 percent of federal tax breaks, close to their portion of all pretax income. That same trend holds for taxpayers in middle- and upper-middle-income households.


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October 4, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

2017 Business Tax Climate: Chilliest in Blue States

Tax Foundation logoThe Tax Foundation has released the 2017 State Business Tax Climate Index, which ranks the fifty states according to five indices: corporate tax, individual income tax, sales tax, unemployment insurance tax, and property tax. Here are the ten states with the best and worst business tax climates:






South Dakota










Rhode Island










New Hampshire


District of Columbia








New York




New Jersey

Interestingly, nine of the ten of the states with the worst business tax climates voted for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and six of the ten states with the best business tax climates voted for Mitt Romney.

2017 Business Tax Climate


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September 29, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

End The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Bonanza For Graduate And Professional Schools

Brookings (2016)Brookings Institution:  The Coming Public Service Loan Forgiveness Bonanza, by Jason Delisle (American Enterprise Institute):

Abstract: The federal government is making more data available about the performance of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for federal student loans. Many policymakers are not aware of this program, but the new data reveal PSLF is growing rapidly and is larger than most observers expected. Budget agencies recently revised the projected cost of the program upward by a staggering amount, and the U.S. Department of Education reports that many PSLF enrollees borrowed over $100,000 to finance graduate degrees. Recent research suggests that borrowers in certain professions stand to have their entire graduate and professional educations paid for through loan forgiveness under PSLF. In light of these developments, reforms that limit the most excessive features of PSLF are warranted, although repealing PSLF altogether and letting the federal Income-Based Repayment program (IBR) accomplish the goal of PSLF is an even better course of action.

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September 25, 2016 in Legal Education, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (11)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Five Myths About Economic Inequality In America

CatoMichael D. Tanner (Cato Institute), Five Myths about Economic Inequality in America:

Over the past several years, economic inequality has risen to the forefront of American political consciousness. Politicians, pundits, and academics paint a picture of a new Gilded Age in which a hereditary American gentry becomes ever richer, while the vast majority of Americans toil away in near-Dickensian poverty. As economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman puts it, “Describing our current era as a new Gilded Age or Belle Époque isn’t hyperbole; it’s the simple truth.” Political candidates have leapt on the issue. ...

It’s a compelling political narrative, one that can be used to advance any number of policy agendas, from higher taxes and increases in the minimum wage to trade barriers and immigration restrictions. But it is fundamentally wrong, based on a series of myths that sound good and play to our emotions and sense of fairness, but that don’t hold up under close scrutiny.

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September 13, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Corporate Inversions Benefit CEOs More Than Shareholders

Cato at Liberty:  Corporate Inversions, by Peter Van Doren:

Among industrialized countries, the United States has the highest official corporate tax rate and one of the highest effective tax rates. To take advantage of lower taxes in other countries, some U.S. firms elect to sell themselves to smaller foreign firms, a process called “inversion.”

For shareholders of those firms, the tax consequences of inversions are complicated. Some are harmed by the move while others benefit. Individual shareholders, who own shares in taxable accounts, are taxed on the increased value of their shares. This can result in different tax outcomes from inversions for shareholders who have held the stock for a long time prior to the inversion and short-term shareholders (including corporate officers exercising company stock options).

In the summer issue of Regulation, I described a new research paper that investigates 73 inversions that occurred from 1983 to 2014 [Anton Babkin (Wisconsin), Brent Glover (Carnegie Mellon) & Oliver Levine (Wisconsin), Are Corporate Inversions Good for Shareholders?]. For those investors who had owned stock for three years, half of the inversions resulted in a negative return. So if many long-term shareholders lose money on inversions, why do they occur?

The answer appears to be that corporate executives gain from inversions even if shareholders lose.

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September 9, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day And The Tax Burden On Labor

Kyle Pomerleau & Kevin Adams (Tax Foundation), A Comparison of the Tax Burden on Labor in the OECD, 2016:

Although the United States and most OECD countries are known for having progressive tax systems that tax high-income earners more than low- or moderate-income earners, a large portion of the tax burden still falls on the average worker. Even here in the United States, which has a lower tax burden than most other OECD countries, average workers end up paying nearly one-third of their incomes in taxes. It is true that governments in the OECD, especially European countries, provide more government programs. However, their workers end up paying a much higher price for them.

Tax Foundation 1

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September 5, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 22, 2016

U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Is Third Highest In World Among 173 Countries, Behind Only Chad, United Arab Emirates

Tax Foundation logoTax Foundation, Corporate Income Tax Rates around the World, 2015:

It is well known that the United States has the highest corporate income tax rate among the 34 industrialized nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). However, it is less well known how the United States stacks up against countries throughout the entire world. Expanding the sample of countries and tax jurisdictions to 173, the U.S.’s corporate tax rate of 39 percent is the third highest in the world, tied with Puerto Rico and lower only than the United Arab Emirates and Chad, which have rates of 55 and 40 percent, respectively. The U.S. tax rate is 16 percentage points higher than the worldwide average of 22.8 percent and a little more than 9 percentage points higher than the worldwide GDP-weighted average of 29.8 percent. As with the average tax rate among industrialized nations, the average worldwide tax rate has been declining in the past ten years, pushing the United States farther from the norm. This worldwide decline in corporate tax rates can been seen in all regions of the world.

Table 1

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August 22, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pro Publica:  IRS Loophole Rewards Excessive Water Use In Drought-Stricken West

Pro PublicaPro Publica, Gimme a Break! IRS Tax Loophole Can Reward Excessive Water Use in Drought-stricken West:

ProPublica’s reporting on the water crisis in the American West has highlighted any number of confounding contradictions worsening the problem: Farmers are encouraged to waste water so as to protect their legal rights to its dwindling supply in the years ahead; Las Vegas sought to impose restrictions on water use while placing no checks on its explosive population growth; the federal government has encouraged farmers to improve efficiency in watering crops, but continues to subsidize the growing of thirsty crops such as cotton in desert states like Arizona.

Today, we offer another installment in the contradictions amid a crisis.

In parts of the western U.S., wracked by historic drought, you can get a tax break for using an abundance of water.

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August 19, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Federal Taxes Are Very Progressive

Tax Vox: Federal Taxes Are Very Progressive, by Robertson Williams:

The US federal tax system is highly progressive, primarily because individual income tax rates rise sharply with income and refundable tax credits lead to negative income taxes for households with low income. Updated estimates from the Tax Policy Center project that effective federal tax rates this year will range from 3.5 percent for households in the lowest-income quintile (or fifth) to 33.0 percent for those in the top 1 percent.

The effective federal tax rate for all households—including individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, and estate and gift taxes—will average 19.9 percent in 2016. Individual income taxes will account for half of total revenue (9.9 percent of income) and payroll taxes will provide just over a third (6.9 percent of income). Most of the rest will come from corporate income taxes (2.1 percent of income) with just 5 percent coming from excise and estate and gift taxes (a combined 1 percent of income).


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August 17, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ending The Pass-Through Tax Loophole For Big Business

CAPCenter for American Progress, Ending the Pass-Through Tax Loophole for Big Business:

In 2012, more than 100,000 big U.S. businesses managed to shelter billions of dollars of income in a single tax haven and pay no corporate income tax on it.

This tax haven is not Panama, Switzerland, or the Cayman Islands. In fact, it cannot even be found on a map—rather, it exists in the pages of the U.S. tax code. These businesses—with revenue of more than $10 million each—managed to pay no U.S. corporate income tax by pretending to be small businesses and thus saved their wealthy owners billions of dollars.

Most people think of big businesses as traditional corporations, which are organized under Subchapter C of the tax code and are supposed to pay the corporate income tax on their profits. But today many big businesses are organized as partnerships or S corporations, which are business forms that were originally designed for simpler or smaller businesses. The vast majority of partnerships and S corporations do not pay the corporate income tax. Instead, all of their income is passed through to their individual owners, who pay taxes on their individual income tax returns, thus avoiding the corporate income tax altogether.

The share of income going to businesses that use the pass-through form of organization—and therefore pay no corporate income tax—has exploded over the last 30 years, growing from less than 25 percent of net business income in 1980 to more than half in 2012. In fact, the United States is unique in this regard: No other country comes close to having such a large portion of business income that is not subject to the corporate income tax.

Small Business Tax Rate

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August 11, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Kamin:  Taxing Capital—Paths To A Fairer And Broader U.S. Tax System

Washington Center for Equitable Growth logoDavid Kamin (NYU), Taxing Capital: Paths to a Fairer and Broader U.S. Tax System:

Taxing capital is a key way to maintain and increase the progressivity in the U.S. tax system and raise the revenue needed to support government activities and investments that in turn will help ensure strong and sustainable economic growth. Why turn to capital as a source of government revenue? Taxing capital is a highly progressive form of taxation that research suggests does not seriously affect the rate of savings among high-income Americans—an important consideration in terms of encouraging future economic growth—and is a key part of optimal taxation in the United States.

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August 11, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 20, 2016

AEI & TPC:  A New Proposal For Corporate Tax Reform

American Enterprise Institute & Tax Policy Center, A New Proposal for Corporate Tax Reform:

Eric Toder & Alan D. Viard, A Proposal to Reform the Taxation of Corporate Income:

  • Reduce corporate tax rate to 15 percent
  • Tax at ordinary rates dividends and marked-to-market capital gains of taxable American shareholders of publicly traded companies
  • Allow (only) those shareholders an imputation credit for corporate taxes – 17.5 percent of cash or stock dividends
  • Provisions to address volatility, companies going public, tax-exempt shareholders, transition, etc.

Discussion of the proposal:

  • Daniel N. Shaviro (NYU)
  • Joann Weiner (George Washington)
  • Howard Gleckman (Tax Policy Center)

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June 20, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tax Foundation:  Modeling The Estate Tax Proposals Of 2016

Tax Foundation:  Modeling the Estate Tax Proposals of 2016, by Alan Cole:

Tax Foundation

Key Findings:

  • Several lawmakers and presidential candidates in 2016 have proposed changes to the federal estate tax. These changes are a worthwhile case study in economic modeling of tax proposals.
  • The estate tax’s marginal rate greatly exceeds its average rate, which makes its disincentives to save relatively strong for the small amount of revenue collected.

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June 15, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tax Foundation:  Options For Reforming America’s Tax Code

TF_Options_for_Reforming_Americas_Tax_CodeTax Foundation, Options For Reforming America’s Tax Code:

There is a widespread consensus among Americans across the political spectrum that the U.S. tax system is overly complex, inefficient, uncompetitive, and due for an overhaul. However, Congress has not passed a comprehensive tax reform bill in three decades. As a result, many lawmakers have set their sights on the 2017 legislative session as an opportunity to hammer out a tax reform deal.

Because so many parts of the U.S. tax code are in need of change, any tax reform bill considered by Congress is likely to be hundreds of pages long and contain dozens of distinct provisions. As a result, lawmakers and voters may be unsure of the effects of each separate tax change on federal revenue collections, the tax burden borne by different groups of Americans, and the growth of the U.S. economy.

To assist lawmakers in assembling tax reform bills over the coming months, and to help the American public in understanding the tax changes being proposed, we have assembled this book: Options for Reforming America’s Tax Code.

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June 9, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ranking The States By Fiscal Condition, From Top (AK, NE, WY) To Bottom (CT, MA, NJ)

George Mason University Mercatus Center, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition, 2016 Edition:

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranks each US state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, such as unfunded pen­sions and healthcare benefits. This 2016 edition updates the version the Mercatus Center pub­lished in 2015. Using the approach pioneered in 2015, the 2016 edition presents information from each state’s audited financial report in an easily accessible format, this time including Puerto Rico to provide a benchmark of poor fiscal performance.


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June 1, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Report:  The Tax Code Is Out Of Step With Today's On-Demand Platform Economy

KogodTax Policy Center, Kogod School of Business, American University,  Shortchanged: The Tax Compliance Challenges of Small Business Operators Driving the On-Demand Platform Economy

The last time Congress enacted substantial tax reform—in 1986—only 8.2% of American households owned personal computers. Today, more than 87% of American adults own a mobile phone and on-demand platforms like Uber, Etsy, Lyft, Airbnb, HomeAway, Amazon, and TaskRabbit have become household names by connecting businesses and consumers. Although millions of Americans are engaging in the on-demand platform economy every day as sellers and service providers, the tax compliance challenges this new frontier presents have gone relatively unnoticed. At the same time, these challenges will grow with this fastest growing segment of the labor economy— creating unnecessary and ongoing burdens for the small business operators who power the on-demand economy. 

This report, in keeping with the mission of the Kogod Tax Policy Center to conduct non-partisan research on tax issues specific to small businesses and entrepreneurs, identifies the tax compliance challenges the on-demand economy presents for its small business operators. Having spent more than a year investigating this growing problem, we report that:

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May 23, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

TPC Study Fuels New Congressional Push To Integrate Corporate And Shareholder Taxes

Wall Street Journal, Fewer Shareholders Pay U.S. Taxes on Dividends: New Study Is Bolstering Drive to Shift Tax Burden From Corporations to Investors:

WSJ 2A new study showing that a shrinking fraction of shareholders of U.S. corporations pay taxes on dividends is bolstering a drive to revamp the corporate tax system. [Steven Rosenthal & Lydia Austin, The Dwindling Taxable Share of U.S. Corporate Stock, 151 Tax Notes 923 (May 16, 2016)]

The specter of double taxation, which animates complaints about today’s U.S. corporate tax code, is receding, according to a new study from the Tax Policy Center. Tax-exempt and tax-preferred entities—such as 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts—own more than 75% of U.S. corporate stock, nearly opposite the prevailing pattern from 50 years ago, the study said.

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May 19, 2016 in Congressional News, Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pew:  America’s Shrinking Middle Class

Pew Research Center, America’s Shrinking Middle Class: A Close Look at Changes Within Metropolitan Areas:

The American middle class is losing ground in metropolitan areas across the country, affecting communities from Boston to Seattle and from Dallas to Milwaukee. From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. ...

Pew 2A

Pew 1A

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May 13, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

CBPP:  State Estate Taxes Are A Key Tool For Broad Prosperity

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, State Estate Taxes: A Key Tool for Broad Prosperity:

As the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and those at the bottom and middle has widened in recent years, many states have eliminated their estate tax ― a key tool for reducing inequality and building broadly shared prosperity.  States that have eliminated their estate tax should reinstate it and those with an estate tax should keep it and, if needed, improve it.


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May 12, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mitchell:  The Necessary And Valuable Economic Role Of Tax Havens

Daniel J. Mitchell (Cato Institute), The Necessary and Valuable Economic Role of Tax Havens:

Economists certainly don’t speak with one voice, but there’s a general consensus on two principles of public finance that will lead to a more competitive and prosperous economy.

To be sure, some economists will say that high tax rates and more double taxation are nonetheless okay because they believe there is an “equity vs. efficiency” tradeoff and they are willing to sacrifice some prosperity in hopes of achieving more equality.

I disagree, mostly because there’s compelling evidence that this approach ultimately leads to less income for the poor, but this is a fair and honest debate. Both sides agree that lower rates and less double taxation will produce more growth (though they’ll disagree on how much growth) and both sides agree that a low-tax/faster-growth economy will produce more inequality (though they’ll disagree on whether the goal is to reduce inequality or reduce poverty).

Since I’m on the low-tax/faster-growth side of the debate, this is one of the reasons why I’m a big fan of tax competition and tax havens.

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May 12, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Estate Tax Is Destroying The Environment

Estate TaxBrian Seasholes (Reason Foundation), The Ecologically Destructive Tax: How the Federal Estate Tax Is Ecologically Harmful and How to Fix It:

The ongoing debate over the federal estate tax tends to focus on the tax’s economic impacts, such as on small businesses, employment and capital formation, as well as the very small percentage it constitutes of federal tax receipts. Less well known, however, is the significant harm the estate tax does to the ecology of the United States.

Private lands, especially large, intact pieces of land, are critically important to ecological conservation. Conversely, land broken into smaller pieces is generally of less ecological value. Unfortunately, the estate tax results in private land being broken up, subdivided and sold. Over the past several decades it has become increasingly apparent that:

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May 3, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (12)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Corporate Integration:  An Important Component Of Tax Reform

Tax Foundation logoScott Greenberg (Tax Foundation), Corporate Integration: An Important Component of Tax Reform:

Corporate integration would not fix all, or even most of the problems with the U.S. business tax system. The United States has one of the highest statutory corporate tax rates in the world, a counter-productive set of rules regarding overseas income, and a cumbersome system of depreciation and cost recovery. Corporate integration would not solve any of these issues.

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April 26, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Today Is Tax Freedom Day — Earlier In MS, TN & LA, Later In CT, NJ & NY

Tax Foundation logoTax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day 2016 is April 24:

  • This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 24, or 114 days into the year (excluding Leap Day).
  • Americans will pay $3.3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of almost $5.0 trillion, or 31 percent of the nation’s income.
  • Tax Freedom Day is one day earlier than last year, due to slightly lower federal tax collections as a proportion of the economy.
  • Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2016 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
  • If you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur 16 days later, on May 10.
  • Tax Freedom Day is a significant date for taxpayers and lawmakers because it represents how long Americans as a whole have to work in order to pay the nation’s tax burden.

Tax Freedom Day

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Tax Foundation Figures Do Not Represent Typical Households’ Tax Burdens; Figures May Mislead Policymakers, Journalists, and the Public:

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April 24, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The OECD’s Conquest Of The United States: Understanding The Costs And Consequences Of The BEPS Project And Tax Harmonization

Jason J. Fichtner & Adam N. Michel (Mercatus Center, George Mason University), The OECD’s Conquest of the United States: Understanding the Costs and Consequences of the BEPS Project and Tax Harmonization:

The Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) attempts to fundamentally change the international tax system by protecting high-tax states at the expense of economically friendly low-tax states. The OECD is concerned that globalization and increasingly easy movement of capital and labor across borders will undermine the tax bases of its high-tax members. The proposed solution, however, favors consolidated, uniform, and transparent tax rules at the cost of compliance, diminished taxpayer rights, and diminished institutional diversity. Tax policy should remain an area of domestic decision-making, allowing each country to choose a tax system that best fits its unique needs within the global landscape. The international community should be cautious of OECD attempts to eliminate tax competition by consolidating international tax rules. Instead, the United States should lead other countries by reforming its domestic tax code and rejecting many of the BEPS Project’s new rules.

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March 22, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Stiglitz:  Rewriting The Tax Code For A Stronger, More Equitable Economy

Roosevelt LogoJoseph Stiglitz (Columbia), Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity:

This white paper by Roosevelt Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz outlines concrete policy measures that can restore equitable and sustainable economic growth in the United States, in the context of the country’s recurring budgetary crises. Effective policies are within our grasp because these budgetary crises are the result of political and not economic failings.

Tax reform in particular offers a path toward both resolving budgetary impasses and making the kinds of public investments that will strengthen the fundamentals of the economy. The most obvious reform is an increase in the top marginal income tax rates—this would both raise needed revenues and soften America’s extreme and harmful inequality. But there are also a variety of other effective possible reforms related to corporate taxation, the estate and inheritance tax, environmental taxes, and ensuring that the government gets full value when it sells public assets. This white paper describes the gravity of the economic situation in the United States, but also shows that there is a way out.

Eric Harris Bernstein (Roosevelt Institute) & Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia), Rewriting the Tax Code for a Stronger, More Equitable Economy:

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March 14, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Auerbach & Gale:  The Deteriorating Fiscal Outlook

Alan J. Auerbach (UC-Berkeley) & William G. Gale (Tax Policy Center), Once More Unto the Breach: The Deteriorating Fiscal Outlook:

After worsening sharply during the Great Recession, the long-term fiscal outlook generally improved through 2015, due to a combination of legislative acts and lower projected growth of health care spending. The same factors and the slow but steady economic recovery helped reduce short-term deficits over that period, as well.

Over the past year, though, the medium- and long-term fiscal outlooks have deteriorated. Part of this is due to legislative changes, part to changes in economic and technical factors, and a small part to changes in assumptions. This deterioration has happened without much fanfare and, even with a fall in projected interest rates working in the other direction, the estimated changes are large.

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February 26, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (4)

The Tax Implications Of Immigration Reform: Two Perspectives

Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy, Undocumented Immigrants' State & Local Tax Contributions:

An updated 50-state study ...  finds that undocumented immigrants’ tax contributions would increase significantly under the Obama Administration’s executive actions and even more substantially under comprehensive immigration reform granting  all undocumented immigrants lawful permanent residence.

The 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States collectively paid $11.64 billion in state and local taxes.  ITEP’s analysis finds their combined nationwide state and local tax contributions would increase by $805 million under full implementation of the administration’s 2012 and 2014 executive actions and by $2.1 billion under comprehensive immigration reform.

Federation for American Immigration Reform, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers:

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February 26, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Shady Tax Treaties Are Fueling Inequality and Poverty

MistreatedAction Aid, Mistreated: How Shady Tax Treaties are Fueling Inequality and Poverty:

Right now, stretching across the world is a web of tax agreements between governments. They may not seem like the frontline in the fight against inequality and poverty, but today ActionAid shows how crucial they are for ordinary people everywhere.

Our report, ‘Mistreated’, shows how tax treaties are reducing the tax that some of the world’s poorest countries can collect from  multinational companies.

Measuring Tax Treaty Negotiation Outcomes: The ActionAid Tax Treaties Dataset:

This paper introduces a new dataset that codes the content of 519 tax treaties signed by low- and lower-middle-income countries in Africa and Asia. Often called Double Taxation Agreements, bilateral tax treaties divide up the right to tax cross-border economic activity between their two signatories. When one of the signatories is a developing country that is predominantly a recipient of foreign investment, the effect of the tax treaty is to impose constraints on its ability to tax inward investors, ostensibly to encourage more investment.

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February 26, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tax Rates, Tax Reform And Tax Revenues

Alan Reynolds (Cato Institute), Tax Rates, Tax Reform and Tax Revenues: Part One:

As the graph shows, the U.S. has had considerable experience with top tax rates as high as 91-92%, as low as 28%, and everything in between. The individual income tax averaged 7.7% of GDP since 1946.

Top Tax Rates and Revenues as % of GDP

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January 28, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Highest State And Local Tax Burdens Are In Blue States, Lowest Are In Red States

Tax Foundation, State-Local Tax Burden Rankings FY 2012:

During the 2012 fiscal year, state-local tax burdens as a share of state incomes decreased on average across the U.S. Average income increased at a faster rate than tax collections, driving down state-local tax burdens on average.

New Yorkers faced the highest burden, with 12.7 percent of income in the state going to state and local taxes. Connecticut (12.6 percent) and New Jersey (12.2 percent) followed closely behind. On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska (6.5 percent), South Dakota (7.1 percent) and Wyoming (7.1 percent) had the lowest burdens.


Interestingly, the ten states with the highest per capita tax burden voted for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and eight of the ten states with the lowest per capita tax burden voted for Mitt Romney.

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January 22, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Treasury Data Shows How Progressive America's Tax Code Really Is

Tax Foundation logoScott Hodge (Tax Foundation), New Treasury Data Shows How Progressive America's Tax Code Really Is:

Recent data produced by Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis shows that not only is the income tax very progressive, but so too is the overall tax system when we include payroll taxes, corporate income taxes, and various excise taxes.

Treasury’s data for 2015 [found here] allows us to look at two simple ways of measuring the progressivity of the tax code: the share of the total tax burden borne by families at each level of income; and, the average tax rates paid by families at each level of income.

The Treasury data is comprehensive, in that it includes all roughly 167 million families (rather than just the 145 million income tax filers) and it uses a broader “cash” measure of income that includes government transfers in addition to wages, salaries, and investment income. Treasury divides the population into deciles, or ten equal groups of 16.7 million families.


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January 5, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tax Policy Center:  Trump Tax Plan Adds $10 Trillion To Debt, Slashes Taxes For Top 0.1%

TrumpLeonard E. Burman, Jim Nunns, Jeff Rohaly & Joseph Rosenberg (Tax Policy Center), An Analysis of Donald Trump's Tax Plan:

This paper analyzes presidential candidate Donald Trump’s tax proposal. His plan would significantly reduce marginal tax rates on individuals and businesses, increase standard deduction amounts to nearly four times current levels, and curtail many tax expenditures. His proposal would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households. The plan would reduce federal revenues by $9.5 trillion over its first decade before accounting for added interest costs or considering macroeconomic feedback effects. The plan would improve incentives to work, save, and invest. However, unless it is accompanied by very large spending cuts, it could increase the national debt by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product by 2036, offsetting some or all of the incentive effects of the tax cuts.

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December 22, 2015 in Political News, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pew:  The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground

Pew 2APew Research Center, The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground:

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

In at least one sense, the shift represents economic progress: While the share of U.S. adults living in both upper- and lower-income households rose alongside the declining share in the middle from 1971 to 2015, the share in the upper-income tier grew more.

Over the same period, however, the nation’s aggregate household income has substantially shifted from middle-income to upper-income households, driven by the growing size of the upper-income tier and more rapid gains in income at the top. Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.

And middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.

Meanwhile, the far edges of the income spectrum have shown the most growth. In 2015, 20% of American adults were in the lowest-income tier, up from 16% in 1971. On the opposite side, 9% are in the highest-income tier, more than double the 4% share in 1971. At the same time, the shares of adults in the lower-middle or upper-middle income tiers were nearly unchanged.

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December 14, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

NY Times: Tax Deductions Blunt Impact Of Large Corporate Settlements

USPIRG_SettlementsReportNew York Times:  Tax Deductions Blunt Impact of Large Corporate Settlements, Report Says, by Liz Moyer:

Corporations continue to use big civil legal settlements with federal regulators as a way to deduct billions of dollars from their American tax bills, largely because the regulators fail to forbid the practice in the terms of the settlements.

BP’s pending $20.8 billion settlement with the Justice Department and other federal and state regulators related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 allows about $15.3 billion to be classified as a tax-deductible business expense, according to an analysis by the United States Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit advocacy group [Settling for a Lack of Accountability? Which Federal Agencies Allow Companies to Write Off Out-of-Court Settlements as Tax Deductions, and Which Are Transparent about It].

Likewise, the Justice Department’s $25 billion mortgage settlement with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial in 2012 — billed at the time as the largest consumer financial protection settlement in United States history — allowed $20 billion to be eligible as a deduction for those banks.

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December 3, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 23, 2015

2016 Business Tax Climate: Chilliest in Blue States

Tax Foundation logoThe Tax Foundation has released the 2016 State Business Tax Climate Index, which ranks the fifty states according to five indices: corporate tax, individual income tax, sales tax, unemployment insurance tax, and property tax. Here are the ten states with the best and worst business tax climates:






South Dakota














Rhode Island






New Hampshire










New York




New Jersey

Interestingly, all ten of the states with the worst business tax climates voted for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and seven of the ten states with the best business tax climates voted for Mitt Romney.

Tax Foundation

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November 23, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (6)

Bottom 50% Earn 11% Of Income, Pay 3% Of Income Taxes; Top 1% Earn 19% Of Income, Pay 38% Of Income Taxes

Tax Foundation logoFollowing up on my previous post, Income Inequality Decreased Significantly in 2013:  Tax Foundation, Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2015 Update:

The Internal Revenue Service has recently released new data on individual income taxes for calendar year 2013, showing the number of taxpayers, adjusted gross income, and income tax shares by income percentiles. The data demonstrates that the U.S. individual income tax continues to be progressive, borne mainly by the highest income earners. ...

High-Income Americans Paid the Majority of Federal Taxes
In 2013, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs below $36,841) earned 11.49 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $34 billion in taxes, or 2.78 percent of all income taxes in 2013. In contrast, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs of $428,713 and above), earned 19.04 percent of all AGI in 2013, but paid 37.80 percent of all federal income taxes.

In 2013, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $465 billion, or 37.80 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid $372 billion, or 30.20 percent of all income taxes.

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November 23, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

United States Is Third Biggest Tax Haven, Above Cayman Islands

FSITax Justice Blog, How the U.S. Became a Top Secrecy Jurisdiction:

The U.S. ranks as the third biggest offender – just after Switzerland and Hong Kong – on the Tax Justice Network’s 2015 Financial Secrecy Index when it comes to facilitating financial secrecy and tax evasion, or, in other words, enabling individuals to hide their assets.

The largest drivers for the United States’ high ranking are its financial secrecy laws and that it has the largest share of the global market for offshore financial services.

November 4, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Income Inequality Decreased Significantly in 2013

Scott Greenberg (Tax Foundation), Income Inequality Decreased Significantly in 2013:

The top 1% of American households made a smaller share of national income in 2013 than 2012, according to new statistics from the IRS. Overall, the recently released statistics show a more equal income distribution in 2013 than the year before.

Tax Foundation

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November 4, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)