Tax Policy Center

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Elaine Maag

Principal Research Associate

I believe that we can work toward providing a strong safety net for all people—and that the tax system will always be an important part of that effort.

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Research report

The American family is changing. Individuals marry later, divorce more frequently, or live together without being married. Nonmarital births, complex custody arrangements, and multiple generations of families living together are more common, but the tax system has not kept pace. Although tax...

March 3, 2016
Elaine MaagH. Elizabeth PetersSara Edelstein
Research report

Marco Rubio’s tax proposal would convert the federal income tax into a consumption tax by not taxing investment income of individuals and by converting the corporate income tax into a cash-flow consumption tax. It would replace most deductions and exemptions with a universal credit; eliminate...

February 11, 2016
Elaine MaagRoberton C. WilliamsJeffrey RohalyJames R. Nunns
Brief

The federal child tax credit provides a credit of up to $1,000 per child under age 17; the refundable portion of the credit, which is crucial for low-income families, is limited to 15 percent of earnings above a defined threshold. That threshold is set to increase from $3,000 to almost $15,000...

December 9, 2015
Elaine Maag
Research report

The earned income tax credit (EITC) is the most effective antipoverty program targeted to working-age households, delivering $60 annually. Critics note a relatively high error rate – with errors often stemming from complicated rules about who counts as a “qualifying child”. We analyze data from...

September 30, 2015
Elaine MaagMike PergamitDevlin HansonCaroline RatcliffeSara EdelsteinSarah Minton
Brief

Tax and transfer programs can create significant bonuses and penalties for low- and moderate-income cohabiters with children. We find that federal tax laws can create marriage penalties that reach almost 10 percent of earnings for our hypothetical couples earning $40,000 or $50,000 a year. In...

September 8, 2015
Elaine Maag
Research report

Federal and state income taxes play an important role in providing income support for low-income households by administering refundable tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit (EITC). Using the Urban Institute’s Net Income Change Calculator (NICC), which provides state- and federal-...

July 23, 2015
Elaine Maag
Research report

Taxpayers routinely have too much income tax withheld. Of the 126 million tax returns the IRS processed through April 17, 2015, almost three-quarters resulted in a refund. The average refund was $2,711 with higher average refunds going to the earliest filers.

June 9, 2015
Elaine MaagElena Ramirez
Research report

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) annually delivers over $60 billion to low-income working families. The Office of Management and Budget identifies the EITC as having the highest improper payment rate among 13 high error programs. We explore whether state SNAP and TANF administrative data can...

June 3, 2015
Mike PergamitElaine MaagDevlin HansonCaroline RatcliffeSara EdelsteinSarah Minton
Brief

The earned income tax credit (EITC) lifts millions of working families out of poverty, but provides little support to workers without children living at home. Scaling back the EITC and implementing a worker credit based on individual earnings and not contingent on having children at home could...

May 20, 2015
Elaine Maag

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