Research report

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
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

State policymakers across the country are considering tax cuts in 2022. While there are many reasons and ways to cut taxes, state policymakers should keep in mind that the pandemic’s negative effects were unequal and that future state revenue growth is uncertain. This report, using the Tax...

February 9, 2022
Richard C. Auxier
Research report

Direct income supports (such as cash transfers) can stabilize households during crises and recoveries. They show special promise as an equitable means of assisting families of color with low incomes, who because of structural racism are disproportionately affected...

February 24, 2022
Mary BogleEmily Bramhall Olivia FiolPeace GwamElaine MaagEleanor NobleFay Walker
Research report

The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a triennial household survey with extensive demographic, income, and balance sheet information. The SCF is unique among public-use household surveys because it oversamples wealthy households and is thus suitable for studying wealth and income inequality...

February 8, 2022
William G. GaleSwati JoshiChristopher PulliamJohn Sabelhaus
Research report

Federal, state, and local government officials are increasingly paying attention to reforms of fines and fees. These constitute a small share of total revenues, but they can be particularly harmful because of unjust policing and sentencing practices. This research report first explores how much...

January 13, 2022
Aravind BoddupalliLivia Mucciolo
Research report

Public benefit programs have the potential to help stabilize families when their income drops and can provide support as parents enter or reenter the workforce. As a family’s earnings rise, though, those earnings increases are often offset by declines in public...

January 11, 2022
Theresa AndersonAmelia CoffeyHannah DalyHeather HahnElaine MaagKevin Werner
Research report

State tax revenues saw large swings since the onset of the pandemic, in part because of government actions and behavioral responses to mitigate virus exposure.

States reported strong revenue growth in the second quarter of 2021, but that is largely because of the lower base in 2020. Still...

December 9, 2021
Lucy Dadayan
Research report

The child tax credit (CTC) has grown to become a core component of American family tax and welfare policy. Temporary expansions made the credit fully refundable in 2021 – even very low-income families could receive the maximum benefit. On a conceptual level, full...

December 2, 2021
Samuel HammondElaine Maag
Research report

Mainstream public finance research has largely ignored racial issues. This paper calls on public finance economists to explore racial issues more extensively. The obvious reasons are to understand the effects of inequitable and inefficient policies, help develop remedies,...

November 4, 2021
William G. Gale