Roberton Williams

BIO
Roberton Williams is the Sol Price Fellow at the Tax Policy Center. He was at the Congressional Budget Office from 1984 through 2006, most recently as Deputy Assistant Director for Tax Analysis, and before that an assistant professor of economics at Williams College. He has written numerous papers on tax policy, income distribution, and social welfare programs. Twitter: @roberton


Why The Top 2 Percent Pay Lots of Tax: Evidence from President Obama’s 1040

By :: April 15th, 2015

The White House released Barack Obama’s 2014 tax return last week. It showed that the President and First Lady paid $93,362 in federal taxes on a total income of $477,383—an effective tax rate of 19.6 percent. But those are only the top-line numbers—their return contains lots of interesting information that shows how the income tax […]

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Why Stop At Food Stamps? Let’s Limit Use Of All Federal Benefits

By :: April 13th, 2015

Missouri State Representative Rick Brattin (R-55) has proposed a bill that would prohibit Missourians who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) from using their benefits to buy “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.” But why stop at food stamps? Let’s limit beneficiaries’ use of all federal benefits. […]

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Who’s Afraid of Income Taxes? New Interactive TPC Tools To Help You Understand the 1040

By :: March 18th, 2015

Need help understanding the 1040 as we enter the homestretch of this year’s tax filing season? The Tax Policy Center has created a new interactive tool to walk you through key parts of the federal income tax, ranging from the mundane to the arcane. In bite-sized pieces, Who’s Afraid of the Form 1040? discusses the main […]

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My Favorite (Expired) Tax Breaks

By :: December 1st, 2014

And now, for a lighter look at tax extenders, here’s a song that borrows the tune of The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things.” If you’re looking for something more serious, check out Len Burman’s TaxVox thoughts on the issue. My Favorite (Expired) Tax Breaks Special deductions of teachers’ expenses, Tax-free forgiveness for lost residences, […]

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CBO Says Federal Tax Revenues Will Rise Because Of Higher Individual Income Taxes

By :: September 3rd, 2014

Last week’s Congressional Budget Office fiscal update largely focused on the dangers of rising spending on health care, Social Security, and interest on the debt. But it also projected a significant increase in federal revenues, almost entirely due to a big bump in individual income taxes. CBO projects that individual tax revenue will climb well […]

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One Downside Of Inversions: Higher Tax Bills For Stockholders

By :: August 20th, 2014

Corporate inversions are all the rage these days as U.S. businesses merge with foreign firms and then restructure the combined businesses as foreign-based corporations. That yields tax benefits and may boost their after-tax profits, but it can also leave their stockholders with unwanted capital gains and big tax bills. As Howard Gleckman explained in TaxVox […]

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IRS Help Line Is Out Of Service

By :: July 7th, 2014

The IRS is getting a lot of flak these days about lost emails and alleged politically motivated activity. But last week I ran into a problem that hit much closer to home. It appears that the IRS telephone help line is out of service, at least for my basic tax question. I needed to double-check […]

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President Obama’s FY 2015 Budget

By :: July 2nd, 2014

When President Obama proposed his 2015 budget last March, he vowed to cut taxes for working class Americans while making sure high income households pay their “fair share.” New Tax Policy Center estimates show that, like it or not, Obama would do pretty much as he promised. Low-income households would enjoy a tax cut while […]

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U.S. Taxes Have Changed A Lot Since 1929

By :: June 20th, 2014

U.S. taxes today bear little resemblance to the taxes collected before World War II. Income and payroll taxes have replaced tariffs and excise taxes at the federal level while property taxes have become less important for state and local governments. And while the feds collected just one-third of all revenue before the war, they now […]

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Good And Bad News About The ACA Penalty Tax

By :: June 12th, 2014

An important feature of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the penalty tax imposed on people who do not have health insurance. But newly updated report from the Congressional Budget Office projects that just under 4 million people will pay the penalty in 2016, less than 15 percent of the estimated 30 million people who […]

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