Tax Policy Center



Karen E. Smith

Senior Fellow

Microsimulation is an extraordinarily powerful tool for analyzing the short- and long-term impacts of demographic trends and policy reforms on economic well-being. Microsimulation provides insights to the size, direction, and characteristics of winners and losers of policy reforms. It is a vital analysis tool for policymakers given the complexity of the US tax and benefit systems, as well as complex social interactions.

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Research report

Lifetime Social Security and Medicare taxes are scheduled to be significantly lower than lifetime Social Security and Medicare benefits for most workers in future decades, based on the latest data. This report compares the benefits and taxes paid by beneficiaries at the age of 65 from 1960 to...

February 14, 2023
C. Eugene SteuerleKaren E. Smith
Research report

Refundable tax credits can play an important role in the financial lives of low-income families. The two that provide the most support are the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the child tax credit (CTC). Refundable tax credits differ from most programs that provide income support to low-...

October 17, 2022
Elaine MaagH. Elizabeth PetersNikhita AiriKaren E. Smith
Research report

This report presents updated figures in 2021 dollars for the lifetime benefits earned and the lifetime taxes paid by hypothetical workers participating in Social Security and Medicare. For a single male earning average wages every year and retiring in 2020 at age 65, lifetime Social Security and...

February 15, 2022
C. Eugene SteuerleKaren E. Smith
Research report

This study uses the Urban Institute’s Dynamic Simulation of Income Model to project the share of Social Security beneficiaries whose retirement incomes fall below 75 percent of preretirement income, a common benchmark for a secure retirement. Absent significant Social Security reforms, we...

October 4, 2021
Karen E. SmithC. Eugene Steuerle

In this brief, we examine how Social Security proposals could eliminate poverty and relative poverty (defined as having low income relative to average wages in the economy) for older adults and people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. We add a basic minimum benefit to...

March 4, 2021
C. Eugene SteuerleKaren E. Smith
Research report

Including employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) in taxable compensation would increase income and payroll tax receipts, but would also increase Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) benefits by adding ESI to the OASDI earnings base. The increased present value of OASDI...

May 1, 2014
Karen E. SmithEric Toder

This paper simulates the impact of the 2008 stock market crash on future retirement savings under alternative scenarios. If stocks remain depressed as after the 1974 crash, 20 percent of preboomers born 1941-45 and 22 percent of late boomers born 1961-65 would see their retirement incomes drop...

December 17, 2009
Barbara ButricaKaren E. SmithEric Toder
Research report

This paper presents alternative measures of actual and projected net benefits (benefits minus payroll taxes) from the Old and Survivors Insurance (OASI) component of Social Security, based on results from a microsimulation model. The simulations take into account marital histories, income, and...

May 17, 2001
Karen E. SmithEric ToderHoward Iams

From TaxVox