January 1, 1999

Federal Excise Taxes and the Distribution of Taxes Under Tax Reform

Download Background Paper No. 29

Background Paper No. 29

Executive Summary
The most familiar aspect of tax fairness simply relates to how the burden of a tax or a tax system is spread among the taxpayers. In recent years, the distribution of the tax burden in the U.S. and the changes in that distribution have played prominent roles in guiding tax policy, including tax reform.

Naturally, major changes in the distribution of the tax burden are most likely when the nation seriously contemplates fundamental tax reform. In the current climate, the primary motivations for fundamental tax reform are faster economic growth and simplification of the code. However, changes in the tax burden’s distribution are so important politically and socially that no economic or administrative improvements can be considered without a thorough analysis of all possible distributional effects.

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