Len Burman

BIO
Leonard Burman is the director of the Tax Policy Center, the Paul Volcker Chair at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a senior research associate at Maxwell School's Center for Policy Research. He co-founded the Tax Policy Center in 2002. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis at the Treasury from 1998 to 2000 and as Senior Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He is past-president of the National Tax Association. Burman is the author of Taxes in America: What Everyone Needs to Know, with Joel Slemrod, and The Labyrinth of Capital Gains Tax Policy: A Guide for the Perplexed, co-editor of Taxing Capital Income and Using Taxes to Reform Health Insurance, and author of numerous articles, studies, and reports. Burman’s recent research has examined US federal budget dynamics, tax expenditures, financing long-term care, the individual alternative minimum tax, the changing role of taxation in social policy, and tax incentives for savings, retirement, and health insurance. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. Twitter: @lenburman


Cutting Capital Gains Taxes is a Dead End, Not a Step on the Road to a Consumption Tax

By :: March 3rd, 2015

One of the most useful insights of public economics is the “theory of second best.” The idea is that adopting some but not all of the features of optimal policy—the seminal article on the subject called this “piecemeal policy recommendations”—may actually make the economy less efficient. A great example is the argument for eliminating taxes […]

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Are Accrued Capital Gains Income in the Year You Die?

By :: February 2nd, 2015

The Tax Policy Center’s tables showing the distribution of President Obama’s new income tax proposals indicate that some middle-class households would pay more tax than under current law. The Administration says they wouldn’t. The reason is that TPC and the White House disagree over what counts as income. The dispute centers on the President’s proposal […]

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President Obama Targets the "Angel of Death" Capital Gains Tax Loophole

By :: January 18th, 2015

The President plans to announce in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address new proposals that would raise taxes on capital gains for the wealthiest Americans. The proposal would raise the top tax rate on long-term gains and qualifying dividends to 28-percent (including the Affordable Care Act’s 3.8 percent investment income surtax on high-income taxpayers). The […]

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TPC’s New 2015 Digital Look

By :: January 7th, 2015

As you might have noticed, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center website just had a makeover. It’s the beginning of a process that will make our careful nonpartisan analysis more engaging and easier to find and use. First, we have designed a new logo and have given TaxVox a new look. And you will begin to […]

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The Politics and Policy of Tax Extenders

By :: December 1st, 2014

‘Tis the season for bad tax policy… In what has become an annual ritual, Congress is struggling with what to do with the 70 or so “temporary” tax provisions that expired in 2013 or will expire in 2014. For a brief moment last week, there was word of a deal to make permanent the biggest […]

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What Ronald Reagan Didn’t Say About the EITC

By :: July 30th, 2014

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 […]

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How Progressive is Obama’s Tax Policy?

By :: July 23rd, 2014

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 […]

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“Pension Smoothing” is a Sham

By :: July 9th, 2014

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 […]

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

By :: May 23rd, 2014

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 […]

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Profiles in Courage at the IRS (Really)

By :: March 24th, 2014

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 […]

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