Measuring the Economic and Distributional Effects of the Final Fiscal Cliff Bill

 
 
January 02, 2013

Now that H.R. 8 (The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012) has been passed out of both the House and Senate, we can model the full economic and distributional effects of the legislation. (The results we posted yesterday did not include the effects of the estate tax changes).

The first set of tables below show the economic and distributional effects of the major tax provisions – increasing the top estate tax rate from 35% to 40%, increasing the top individual income tax rate from 35% to 39.6%, increasing the capital gains and dividend rates to 20%, and the new PEP and Pease provisions. In this simulation, we did not include the 50% expensing provision because it was not made permanent and, thus, would have no lasting effect on capital accumulation. In the second set of tables below, we do simulate the effects of the 50% expensing provision if it was made permanent.   

Table 1 shows that the tax increases will lower GDP by 1.45% compared to the baseline level after about ten years. Wage rates and private business stocks will also fall short of projected levels.

While the tax hikes are projected to raise over $82 billion per year on a static basis, the simulation shows that they will only about $29 billion annually once the economic effects of the taxes are taken into account.

For every new dollar of revenues that the tax hikes are expected to generate, GDP will fall by $8.5.

Table 1: H.R. 8 Tax Provisions

(in Billions of 2012 dollars except as noted)

GDP

-1.45%

Private business GDP

-1.52%

Private business stocks

-3.74%

Wage rate

-1.11%

Private business hours of work

-0.42%

Federal revenue (dynamic)($ billions)

$29.30

Federal spending ($ billions)

-$8.00

Federal deficit (+ = lower deficit) ($ billions)

$37.30

Static revenue estimate ($ billions)

$82.30

% Revenue reflow vs. dynamic

-64.4%

$GDP ($ billions)

-$228.90

$GDP/$tax increase (dollars)

-$8.50

Weighted Average service price

Change

% Change

Corporate

0.36%

2.52%

Noncorporate

0.22%

1.79%

All business

0.31%

2.30%

Distributional Effects

Table 2 below illustrates the distributional effects of the tax increases. On a static basis, the tax hikes clearly impact only high-earning taxpayers – mostly those earning over $200,000. However, as we saw above, the tax bill not only reduces overall economic growth, but it also reduces investment, wages, and hours worked. When these effects are accounted for in the distribution tables, we see that every income class is impacted. Even taxpayers in the lowest income group will see an after-tax reduction in income of nearly 1.4%.

Table 2: Distributional Effects of H.R. 8 Tax Provisions

(in 2012 dollars)

Distribution

Average after-tax income per return

All Returns
AGI Class

Static Change

Static % Change

Dynamic Change

Dynamic % Change

< 0

-$2

0.00%

$1,395

-1.49%

0 - 5,307

$0

0.00%

-$40

-1.37%

5,307- 10,614

$0

0.00%

-$114

-1.33%

10,614 - 21,228

$0

0.00%

-$219

-1.32%

21,228 - 31,842

$0

0.00%

-$355

-1.35%

31,842 - 42,456

$0

0.00%

-$483

-1.37%

42,456 - 53,070

$0

0.00%

-$595

-1.33%

53,070 - 79,606

$0

0.00%

-$795

-1.32%

79,606 - 106,141

$0

0.00%

-$1,094

-1.31%

106,141 - 159,211

$0

0.00%

-$1,415

-1.25%

159,211 - 212,282

-$1

0.00%

-$1,983

-1.27%

212,282 - 265,352

-$4

0.00%

-$2,493

-1.26%

262,352 - 530,704

-$970

0.00%

-$4,597

-1.61%

530,704 - 1,061,408

-$15,033

-0.02%

-$22,055

-3.95%

> 1,061,408

-$154,391

-3.67%

-$190,119

-6.99%

 TOTAL FOR ALL

-$446

-0.46%

-$1,125

-2.16%

H.R. 8 Tax Provisions with Permanent Expensing

The next set of tables show the model results for the tax provisions in H.R. 8, but includes the 50% expensing provision as a permanent provision. The simulation shows that if made permanent (which was not in the final bill), the 50% expensing provision would negate most of the economic damage from the other tax provisions by encouraging capital accumulation.

As Table 3 indicates, the tax increases paired with permanent 50% expensing reduces the future level of GDP by 0.11%, far less than the 1.45% without the expensing provision. Wages actually rise slightly compared to baseline levels and the impact on private business stocks is nearly zero.

The expensing provision also makes up for the large dynamic revenue loss expected from the tax provisions alone. The model indicates that such a plan could generate roughly $71 billion in new revenues on a static basis, but about $67 billion after including the economic effects.

Table 3: H.R. 8 Tax Provisions with 50% Permanent Expensing

(Billions 2012 dollars except as noted)

GDP

-0.11%

Private business GDP

-0.13%

Private business stocks

-0.09%

Wage rate

0.03%

Private business hours of work

-0.16%

Federal revenue (dynamic)($ billions)

$66.80

Federal spending ($ billions)

-$0.10

Federal deficit (+ = lower deficit) ($ bil.)

$66.90

Static revenue estimate ($ billions)

$70.90

% Revenue reflow vs. dynamic

-5.80%

$GDP ($ billions)

-$17.30

$GDP/$tax increase (dollars)

-$0.30

Weighted Average service price

Change

% Change

Corporate

-0.06%

-0.44%

Noncorporate

0.11%

0.90%

All business

-0.01%

-0.04%

Distributional Effects

Table 4 shows the distributional effects of H.R. 8 with permanent expensing. Again, most of the static effects of the tax increase fall on high-earners, with all income groups feeling the pinch on after-tax wages when we account for the broader economic effects. However, the impact on low-income taxpayers’ pocketbooks is -0.10%, compared to -1.37% without expensing.

Table 4: Distributional Effects of H.R. 8 Tax Provisions with 50% Permanent Expensing  

(2012 dollars)

Distribution

Average after-tax income per return

 

All Returns
AGI Class

Static Change

Static % Change

Dynamic Change

Dynamic % Change

< 0

-$2

n.a.

$116

n.a.

0 - 5,307

$0

0.00%

-$3

-0.09%

5,307- 10,614

$0

0.00%

-$8

-0.10%

10,614 - 21,228

$0

0.00%

-$16

-0.10%

21,228 - 31,842

$0

0.00%

-$25

-0.10%

31,842 - 42,456

$0

0.00%

-$34

-0.10%

42,456 - 53,070

$0

0.00%

-$42

-0.09%

53,070 - 79,606

$0

0.00%

-$57

-0.09%

79,606 - 106,141

$0

0.00%

-$78

-0.09%

106,141 - 159,211

$0

0.00%

-$102

-0.09%

159,211 - 212,282

-$1

0.00%

-$145

-0.09%

212,282 - 265,352

-$4

0.00%

-$188

-0.10%

262,352 - 530,704

-$970

0.00%

-$1,242

-0.43%

530,704 - 1,061,408

-$15,033

-0.02%

-$15,572

-2.79%

> 1,061,408

-$154,391

-3.67%

-$157,236

-5.78%

 TOTAL FOR ALL

-$446

-0.46%

-$496

-0.95%

Notes: The model is run at 2008 income levels, then inflated to 2012 dollars.   

 

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