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Getting More From Tax Incentives

Katharine Graham Conference Center, Urban Institute
2100 M St. NW, Washington, DC
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Breakfast at 8:30 a.m.
Panel discussions from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET

To attend this event in Washington, DC register at, e-mail:, or call 202-261-5554. If you can't leave your computer or come to Washington, D.C., register at

The budgetary cost of tax incentives with social policy objectives is large and growing. President Obama’s 2010 budget proposes expanded credits for child care, low-income earners, retirement saving, and higher education. Additional credits for housing and health care were proposed during the fall campaign.

Cosponsored by the American Tax Policy Institute, NYU School of Law, and Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, this day-long event will bring together some of the nation’s foremost experts on tax policy, health policy, housing, and retirement to discuss whether and how tax incentives should be used to promote social policy goals and how best to reform current tax incentives for health care, owner-occupied housing, and retirement saving.

Panelists will address five questions in each area:
  • Should the government intervene?
  • If so, should we use fiscal incentives, explicit regulation, or soft paternalism?
  • If we use fiscal incentives, should they be tax incentives or direct spending?
  • What features would make tax incentives most effective?
  • What policy would you recommend?

9:00–10:15 a.m. - Session 1:  General Principles Listen to the event Transcripts

  • Introductory Remarks and Moderator
    Eric Toder, institute fellow, Urban Institute and Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center; former deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis, U.S. Treasury Department

  • "Introduction: Overall Budgetary and Distributional Effects of Tax Incentives"
    Austin Nichols, senior research associate, Urban Institute and Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Presentation Slides
  • "Principles for Determining When and How Fiscal Incentives Should Be Provided"
    Lily Batchelder, professor of law & public policy, NYU School of Law Presentation Slides

  • Bruce Bartlett, former deputy assistant secretary for economic policy, U.S. Treasury Department
  • Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; former senior adviser for budget policy, National Economic Council.  Presentation Slide

10:15–10:30a.m. - Break

10:30a.m.–Noon - Session 2: Tax Incentives for Health Insurance Listen to the event Transcripts

  • Moderator
  • Howard Gleckman, senior research associate, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center; editor, TaxVox; former senior Washington correspondent, BusinessWeek

  • Leonard Burman, director, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center; institute fellow, Urban Institute; former deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis, U.S. Treasury Department  Presentation Slides
  • Fred Goldberg, partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; adjunct professor of law, NYU School of Law; former commissioner, Internal Revenue Service; former assistant secretary for tax policy, U.S. Treasury Department   Presentation Slides
  • Janet McCubbin, AARP   Presenation Slides

Noon–1:00p.m. - Lunch Listen to the event Transcripts

  • Speaker
    Jeffrey Liebman, executive associate director, Office of Management and Budget

1:00-2:30 p.m. - Session 3:  Tax Incentives for Retirement Saving Listen to the event Transcripts

  • Moderator
  • Rosanne Altshuler, codirector, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center; senior fellow, Urban Institute; professor of economics, Rutgers University; former senior economist, President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform

  • Peter Brady, senior economist, Investment Company Institute Presentation Slides
  • William Gale, vice president and director of economic policy, Brookings Institution; codirector, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center; director, Retirement Security Project, Brookings Institution  Presentation Slides
  • Alexander Gelber, assistant professor of business and public policy, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania  Presentation Slides

2:30–2:45 p.m. - Break

2:45-4:15 p.m. - Session 4:  Tax Incentives for Owner-Occupied Housing Listen to the event Transcripts

  • Moderator
  • Dennis Zimmerman, director of projects, American Tax Policy Institute

  • Reid Cramer, research director, Asset Building Program, New America Foundation
  • Ingrid Ellen, associate professor of public policy & urban planning; codirector, NYU Wagner and Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy Presentation Slides
  • Todd Sinai, associate professor of real estate, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania    Presentation Slides