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


Ted Cruz’s Business Flat Tax is a VAT

By :: January 15th, 2016

At last night’s GOP debate, Senator Marco Rubio accused Ted Cruz of sneaking a value-added tax (VAT) into his tax reform plan. RUBIO: Here is the one thing I’m not going to do. I’m not going to have something that Ted described in his tax plan. It’s called the value-added tax. And it’s a tax […]

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How the Tax Policy Center Analyzes Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans

By :: December 8th, 2015

Since 2004, the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center has been analyzing the tax plans of presidential candidates. We are doing the same for the 2016 hopefuls, giving prospective voters our best estimates of the revenue, economic, and distributional effects of candidates’ tax proposals. Our goal is to elevate the tax policy debate, not to criticize […]

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Hillary Clinton’s Off-the-Mark Proposal to Encourage More Patient Investors

By :: July 28th, 2015

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has proposed to radically rejigger top capital gains tax rates to encourage investors to take a longer-term perspective. But I think she’s misdiagnosed the problem and, even if she’s right, the proposal won’t work as she expects. Her idea: Give investors a tax incentive to support productive long run investments […]

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The Uneasy Case for a Financial Transaction Tax

By :: June 30th, 2015

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in an old idea—a financial transaction tax, or FTT. In a new paper, The Tax Policy Center has taken an in-depth look at the pros and cons of the levy. We’ve found that even a modest tax would raise a lot of money, and that […]

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The Trouble with the FairTax

By :: May 27th, 2015

GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently got into a spirited debate with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace about Huckabee’s  proposal to replace all federal taxes with a national retail sales tax, called the FairTax by its supporters.  Wallace pointed out that low-income people spend a much larger share of their income than high-income folks and […]

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TPC Receives A Major Gift From Bob Pozen, Establishes the Pozen Director’s Chair

By :: May 5th, 2015

I am delighted to announce a major new endowment gift for the Tax Policy Center from Robert C. Pozen. His gift will establish the Pozen Director’s Chair at TPC in perpetuity.  I’m honored to be its inaugural holder. Bob is a widely respected leader in finance and public policy and author of several books. He […]

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Do Senators Lee and Rubio Have a Secret Plan to Help Poor Families?

By :: March 27th, 2015

In its analysis of the tax reform plan proposed recently by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT), the Tax Foundation assumed the proposal would make the new personal credit ($2,000 for singles and $4,000 for married couples) fully refundable. This assumption helps explain why the group concluded the Lee-Rubio plan would be highly progressive. Full refundability […]

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“Family Fairness Tax Reform” is Hard on Poor Families

By :: March 19th, 2015

Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) made a big splash with their “Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Plan” last month, which among other things would create a new partially refundable $2,500 per child tax credit (CTC).  The plan is ambitious and expensive, but it may hurt many low-income families with children, according […]

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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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