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Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2022 Update

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released data on individual income taxes for tax year 2019, showing the number of taxpayers, adjusted gross income, income tax paid, and income tax shares by income percentiles.[1] The new data outlines the tax system under the second year of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the last […]

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What the U.S. Can Learn from the Adoption (and Repeal) of Wealth Taxes in the OECD

Recent discussions of a proposed wealth tax for the United States have included little information about trends in wealth taxation among other developed nations. However, those trends and the current state of wealth taxes in OECD countries can provide context for U.S. proposals. The OECD maintains detailed tax revenue statistics for its 38 member countries. […]

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Why Washington State Can’t Claim Its Capital Gains Tax Is an Excise Tax

When is an income tax an excise tax? And for that matter, what exactly is an excise tax? The fate of Washington’s capital gains tax, currently in litigation, rests at least in part on the answer to these questions. By way of background, Washington’s supreme court has repeatedly held that the state’s constitution functionally prohibits […]

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New Study Shows Tax Policy Has Strong Effects on Innovation

When examining how tax policy impacts the economy, researchers typically look at labor supply and investment responses. One other channel through which taxes impact the economy has been less studied: innovation. A new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) paper reviews the literature and concludes that taxes have a significant impact on the both the […]

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The Rich Are Not Monolithic and Taxing Their Wealth Invites Tax Collection Volatility

Congressional Democrats are reported to be weighing a special tax on the assets of billionaires to raise revenues to pay for their Build Back Better spending plan. There are two fundamental challenges to such a plan. First, the incomes and wealth of such individuals are anything but stable; they rise and fall with the economy […]

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Funding for Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Spending Plan Is Unstable and Unsustainable

President Biden and congressional Democrats have justified their plan to raise taxes on the rich to fund much of their $3.5 trillion spending by claiming that the tax code is not progressive enough. Yet a recent Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) analysis of the House Ways and Means tax plan undermines that thesis by showing […]

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Latest White House Report Tells Incomplete Story on Average Tax Rates for Wealthy

Echoing other reports from this year, the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) published a report Thursday that estimates an approximate average federal individual income tax rate for the top 400 wealthiest households in the U.S of 8.2 percent, lower than typically estimated for top earners. The CEA arrived at a lower tax rate […]

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Yes, the U.S. Tax Code Is Progressive

As Congress considers several tax proposals designed to raise taxes on high-income earners, it’s worth considering the distribution of the existing tax code. While the image that rich Americans pay little taxes is popular, it’s a misconception: high-income individuals already pay a large share of taxes, even when compared to their share of national income. […]

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COVID-19 Tax Relief Added to Increasing Share of Households Paying No Income Tax

On Wednesday, the Tax Policy Center (TPC) released estimates on the portion of households with no federal income tax liability, finding that in 2020, about 60.6 percent of households did not pay income tax, up from 43.6 percent of households in 2019. Much of the 2020 increase was due to pandemic-related factors, but the growing […]

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Should the U.S. Copy Denmark’s Social Welfare Policies?

The Biden administration’s proposals to increase transfer payments and expand federal benefits in many ways resemble the social safety net policies of Scandinavian countries. To fully follow the Scandinavian model would require additional taxes that place a higher burden on middle-income earners, but instead, Biden proposes higher taxes on corporations and households making more than […]