ITEP Reports

How Long Has it Been Since Your State Raised Its Gas Tax?

February 5, 2016

Many states' transportation budgets are in disarray, in part because they are trying to cover the rising cost of asphalt, machinery, and other construction materials with a gasoline tax rate that is rarely increased. A growing number of states have recognized the problem with this approach and have switched to a "variable-rate" gas tax under which the tax rate tends to rise over time alongside either inflation or gas prices. A majority of Americans live in a state where the gas tax is automatically adjusted in this way.

Most Americans Live in States with Variable-Rate Gas Taxes

February 5, 2016

The federal government and many states are seeing shortfalls in their transportation budgets in part because the gasoline taxes they use to generate those funds are poorly designed. Thirty-one states and the federal government levy "fixed-rate" gas taxes where the tax rate does not change even as the cost of infrastructure materials inevitably increases over time. The federal government's 18.4 cent gas tax, for example, has not increased in over 22 years. And twenty states have gone a decade or more without a gas tax increase.

Testimony before the Vermont Senate Committee on Finance: Tax Policy Issues with Legalized Retail Marijuana

January 19, 2016

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the tax policy issues associated with legalized retail marijuana. Our testimony includes five parts: 1. An overview of the marijuana tax rates and structures that exist in the four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) where retail marijuana can be legally sold. 2. An analysis of early stage revenue trends in the two states (Colorado and Washington) where legal, taxable sales of retail marijuana have been taking place since 2014. 3. A discussion of issues associated with different types of marijuana tax bases--specifically weight-based taxes, price-based taxes, and hybrids of these two structures. 4. A discussion of issues involved in choosing a tax rate for marijuana. 5. A discussion of long-run issues related to the structure of marijuana taxes and their revenue yield.

ITEP Comments to the Vermont Senate Committee on Finance: Tax Expenditure Evaluation

January 13, 2016

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Vermont's effort to establish a system for regularly evaluating its tax expenditure programs. Data-driven tax expenditure evaluations are a valuable tool for gauging the effectiveness of policy initiatives pursued via the tax code. ITEP is supportive of Vermont's efforts in this area and is generally encouraged by the work completed thus far by groups such as the Joint Fiscal Office and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Rather than rehash the many useful recommendations made by those organizations, these comments focus on two areas that may be in need of further attention: the scope of what is labeled a "tax expenditure," and the importance of data infrastructure advancements to the success of these evaluations.

Delaware: An Onshore Tax Haven

December 10, 2015

When thinking of tax havens, one generally pictures notorious zero-tax Caribbean islands like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. However, we can also find a tax haven a lot closer to home in the state of Delaware - a choice location for U.S. business formation. A loophole in Delaware's tax code is responsible for the loss of billions of dollars in revenue in other U.S. states, and its lack of incorporation transparency makes it a magnet for people looking to create anonymous shell companies, which individuals and corporations can use to evade an inestimable amount in federal and foreign taxes. The Internal Revenue Service estimated a total tax gap of about $450 billion with $376 billion of it due to filers underreporting income in 2006 (the most recent tax year for which this data is available).[i] While it is impossible to know how much underreported income is hidden in Delaware shell companies, the First State's ability to attract the formation of anonymous companies suggests that it could rival the amount of income hidden in more well-known offshore tax havens.