The “tax gap”—the difference between the amount of taxes owed and the amount of tax actually paid—includes substantial gray areas where the law is ambiguous and the IRS’s determination of taxes owed is debatable. Understanding the tax gap’s shades of gray can inform discussions of tax law and...

February 22, 2022
Daniel HemelJanet HoltzblattSteven M. Rosenthal

This policy brief summarizes a new paper (Gale et al. 2022a) in which we develop and refine methods for estimating income tax liabilities in public-use Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) micro data files. Most recently conducted in 2019, the SCF is a triennial household survey with extensive...

February 8, 2022
William G. GaleSwati JoshiChristopher PulliamJohn Sabelhaus

The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC) large-scale microsimulation model produces estimates of how current and proposed tax policies will affect federal revenues and the distribution of tax burdens by income. The model is similar to those used by the Congressional...

December 17, 2021
Benjamin R. Page

President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget proposals were big and diffuse. They, and much of what Congress has considered since then, would also often be temporary. Despite once-in-a-generation policy changes, the real growth in federal spending that either administration or congressional...

December 16, 2021
C. Eugene SteuerleAlexander Carther

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, city leaders are working to tackle structural inequities in access to wealth and opportunity. An infusion of federal dollars from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and American Rescue Plan Act provides an opportunity to rethink past budget choices....

December 1, 2021
Aravind BoddupalliTracy GordonLourdes Germán

By examining federal aid to state and local governments during the Great Recession, we draw lessons that can inform current state and local efforts to build an inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. We primarily compare the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with the...

November 19, 2021
Aravind BoddupalliNikhita AiriTracy GordonSolomon Greene

The murder of George Floyd in spring 2020 sparked a national reckoning and renewed attention to issues of racial equity and justice. This long-overdue awakening led me to read extensively about racism and to think about interactions between race and public policy. To be...

November 4, 2021
William G. Gale

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) temporarily increased the child tax credit (CTC), made the credit fully refundable, and authorized the IRS to issue up to half the credit as an advance monthly payment beginning in July 2021. The IRS reports that nearly 61 million children received the...

November 4, 2021
Michael KarpmanElaine MaagGenevieve M. KenneyDouglas A. Wissoker

Life expectancy at age 65 has grown by about six years since Social Security began paying benefits in 1940 and, despite some recent temporary declines, is expected to increase significantly further in future decades. Despite a modest increase in the age at which people can claim full Social...

October 28, 2021
C. Eugene Steuerle

Interest rates on government debt have been falling in many countries for the last several decades, with markets indicating that rates may stay low well into the future.  The recent economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus only accentuates these trends.  As...

September 23, 2021
Alan J. AuerbachWilliam G. Gale