Author Archive

What Ronald Reagan Didn’t Say About the EITC

I like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It encourages work and allows millions of low-wage workers and their kids to escape a life of poverty. Democrats support it as a critical part of the safety net. Republicans back it because it rewards work and family. Just last week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan […]

How Progressive is Obama’s Tax Policy?

Has President Obama’s tax policy reduced income inequality? It depends on what you are comparing it to. White House Council of Economic Advisors chief Jason Furman claims that President Obama’s tax policies have sharply reduced inequality. Today’s Washington Post Wonkblog featured some new tables from the Tax Policy Center that show Obama tax policy is […]

“Pension Smoothing” is a Sham

Pity House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp. He wants to rewrite the tax code in a serious way, but instead he’s spending his days trying to come up with imaginary revenue sources to pay for important spending priorities like rebuilding our crumbling highways. Tomorrow, his committee will consider a proposal to partially pay […]

Why Not Ditch the Medical Device Excise Tax and Boost Cigarette Taxes?

Senate Republicans are insisting that the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, be repealed as part of the package extending expired tax provisions. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the proposal to chip away at part of Obamacare is not germane and has refused to allow […]

Profiles in Courage at the IRS (Really)

Let’s take a break from fake IRS political scandals to consider how the Service handled a real scandal 45 years ago.  Randolph W. Thrower was IRS commissioner from 1969 to 1971. The Nixon White House insisted that the IRS audit the president’s enemies. Thrower, a lifelong Republican, refused to do it. According to the Washington […]

How the Tax System Could Help the Middle Class

Today I testified at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “Innovative Ideas to Strengthen and Expand the Middle Class.” The middle class certainly needs help. I shared several suggestions, the most important of which is that we replace automatic inflation indexation with regular adjustment of tax parameters to mitigate growing economic inequality. As many commentators […]

Hidden Taxes in the Camp Proposal

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) has produced an impressive tax reform plan that eliminates most loopholes, deductions, and credits. But the plan also introduces a number of hidden taxes that push marginal rates—mostly for higher-income taxpayers—well above the advertised levels. For some taxpayers, the effective tax rate under Camp’s plan could […]

Would the Government be Shuttered if Obamacare were Romneycare?

Enrollment in the new health care exchanges begins today and the government is partially shut down in protest—never mind that Obamacare funding is largely immune to the shutdown. The Republicans in the House appear to be getting most of the blame for the shutdown because they insist that continued government funding be tied to at […]

What Will Supreme Court Decision on DOMA Mean for the IRS?

I’m celebrating today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) with my friends and relatives whose marriages are today, finally, accorded equal status to mine. But I am a tax geek and couldn’t help but think about the consequences of a hundred thousand or so married couples who will now file joint […]

Happy Birthday, Income Tax

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.  [U.S. Constitution, 16th Amendment] On February 3, 1913, Delaware became the 36th state to ratify the 16th amendment to the Constitution, which authorized the US Income Tax. […]