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State Economic Monitor: April 2014 (Series/State Economic Monitor)
Norton FrancisBrian David Moore

The latest edition of the Tax Policy Center's State and Local Finance Initiative's State Economic Monitor finds the economic recovery continues to improve slowly. No state unemployment rate increased from last year in February but long term unemployment remains a problem and is above average in most states. The Monitor reviews the health of various aspects of state economies, including employment, housing, state finances, and economic growth. This edition also reports state general fund revenue forecasts for fiscal year 2015.

Published: 04/14/14
Availability:   PDF

Tax Issues Facing Small Business: Testimony before the Small Business Committee, United States House of Representatives (Testimony)
Donald Marron

In testimony before the House Small Business Committee, Donald Marron examines how tax policy affects small business. Complying with the tax code places a disproportionate burden on small businesses. On the other hand, small businesses are more likely to underpay their taxes, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not. Tax reform could shift the relative tax burden of small and large businesses and recalibrate the balance between pass-through and C corporation structures. The effect will depend on the details and may vary among businesses of different sizes, industries, and organizational forms. Reform also provides an opportunity to reduce compliance burdens on small businesses.

Published: 04/09/14
Availability:   PDF

Educational Attainment and Earnings Inequality among US-Born Men: A Lifetime Perspective (Research Report)
Josh Mitchell

This report tracks the lifetime earnings of men born in the U.S. between 1940 and 1974, focusing on how earnings differences by educational attainment, age, and year of birth have evolved. Both annual and lifetime earnings inequality increased dramatically for men born in the mid-1950s onward. That increase reflects both absolute earnings gains to highly educated workers (especially those with more than a four-year college degree) and absolute earnings losses to less educated workers. Earnings inequality also increases substantially among those with the same level of educational attainment, complicating standard assumptions about the lifetime value of a college degree.

Published: 04/08/14
Availability:   PDF

Major Surgery Needed: A Call for Structural Reform of the US Corporate Income Tax (Research Report)
Eric ToderAlan Viard

A corporate income tax can play a useful role by preventing shareholders from deferring tax on retained corporate profits. The current U.S. corporate income tax is deeply flawed, however, because it relies on definitions of corporate residence and income sourcing that corporations can easily manipulate, causing economic distortions and erosion of the corporate tax base. Two structural reform options to address these problems are securing international agreement on better ways to allocate the corporate tax base among countries and replacing the corporate income tax with full taxation of American shareholders' dividends and accrued capital gains on stock in publicly traded companies.

Published: 04/04/14
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A Comparison of State Minimum Wages  (Article/Tax Facts)
Norton FrancisYuri Shadunsky

This Tax Fact examines minimum wages across states. The current federal minimum wage, which applies to almost all employees, is $7.25 per hour — unchanged since 2010. The District of Columbia and 21 states set minimum wages higher than the federal rate.

Published: 04/01/14
Availability:   PDF

Congress Should Phase Out the Mortgage Interest Deduction (Article)
Eric Toder

The mortgage interest deduction is one of the most expensive federal tax preferences. Supporters claim it stimulates homeownership, which creates broad benefits to society beyond the benefits received by owners. But the case for these external benefits is unproven and the deduction is an ineffective way to promote homeownership. Instead, it provides an incentive for middle-income and upper income people to acquire larger and more expensive homes than they otherwise would. A uniform credit for interest or first home purchases would be a more effective subsidy for homeownership. The deduction, however, should be phased out gradually to minimize market disruption.

Published: 03/28/14
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Taxes and Inequality (Research Report)
Leonard E. Burman

This paper reviews historical trends in economic inequality and tax policy’s role in reducing it. It documents the various reasons why income inequality continues to rise, paying particular attention to the interplay between regressive and progressive federal and state taxes. The report also considers the trade-off between the social welfare gains that a more equal distribution of incomes would provide, and the economic costs of using the tax system to reduce inequality, highlighting the fact that income inequality reflects an amalgam of factors. The optimal policy response reflects that complexity.

Published: 03/20/14
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State Policy and EITC Expansion for Childless Workers (Article/Tax Facts)
Elaine MaagBrian David Moore

President Obama and others have proposed increasing the federal earned income tax credit for workers without qualifying children. That would automatically raise state EITCs in the 23 states that calculate a state-level credit for this group as a percentage of the federal credit.

Published: 03/20/14
Availability:   PDF

Policies to Support the Middle Class: Testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance (Testimony)
Leonard E. Burman

In this testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Len Burman outlines some of the challenges facing the middle class in 2014 and explores policy options that might help better equip them to meet those challenges, including improving access to higher education and job training and consolidating and targeting education tax subsidies; slowing the growth of spending on health care; eliminating the carried interest loophole; encouraging saving by offering automatic contributions to 401(k)-like accounts for low- and moderate-income households; and replacing automatic price indexing with annual indexation adjustments designed to partially counterbalance changes in the distribution of income on a revenue-neutral basis.

Published: 03/13/14
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Tax Subsidies for Asset Development: An Overview and Distributional Analysis (Research Report)
Benjamin H. HarrisC. Eugene SteuerleSigne-Mary McKernanCaleb QuakenbushCaroline Ratcliffe

The federal government channels much of its support for asset building through the tax code. Asset-building tax subsidies, primarily for homeownership and retirement saving, totaled $384 billion in 2013. This report reviews federal tax expenditures for housing, retirement, savings, business development, and higher education. We highlight research on the effectiveness of and justifications for these expenditures, find limited efficacy in their current form, and note possible adjustments. We estimate the distributional effect of major tax expenditures and find that the vast majority of subsidies benefit the top two income quintiles. Last, we review prospective policies such as matched saving accounts and automatic enrollment.

Published: 03/07/14
Availability:   PDF

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