A recent report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) examining state tax actions in 2013 found that “collective revenue actions taken by the 50 states resulted in a slight net tax cut of less than $1...
- Who Pays Taxes and Who Receives Government Spending? An Analysis of...
Who Pays Taxes and Who Receives Government Spending? An Analysis of Federal, State and Local Tax and Spending Distributions, 1991-2004
Working Paper No. 1
While the U.S. tax system is progressive, the distribution of government spending makes the overall fiscal system more progressive than is apparent from tax distributions alone. Using a microdata model we estimate the distribution of federal, state and local taxes and spending between 1991 and 2004. We find households in the lowest quintile of income received roughly $8.21 in federal, state and local government spending for every dollar of taxes paid in 2004, while households in the middle quintile received $1.30, and households in the top quintile received $0.41. Overall, tax payments exceeded government spending received for the top two quintiles of income, resulting in a net fiscal transfer of between $1.031 trillion and $1.527 trillion between quintiles. Both taxes and spending appear to have large distributional effects on households, and these effects have grown since 1991. The results suggest tax distributions alone are an inadequate measure of progressivity, and policymakers should examine both tax and spending distributions when judging the overall fairness of policy toward income groups.
- Rep. Dave Camp deserves credit for introducing dynamic macroeconomic analysis into the tax reform discussion by requesting a dynamic score of his plan from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).
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