Cue Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. In their new book, The Triumph of Injustice, the economists, who already jolted the world with their shocking data on exploding income inequality and wealth inequality, tell us to stop acting like we are paralyzed when it comes to tax policy. There are answers and solutions. And in about 200 surprisingly readable pages, they provide them.
Inequality and the Economy
ITEP analyzes the overall fairness of the current tax system and proposals to change it. We help lawmakers and the public decide what tax policies will create the kind of economy Americans want and examine how public policy perpetuates economic inequality. See ITEP’s most recent analysis of the total tax system Who Pays Taxes in America in 2019? and ITEP’s explainer on the need for progressive tax revenue.
blog October 15, 2019
Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman’s New Book Reminds Us that Tax Injustice Is a Choice
blog October 2, 2019
How a Federal Wealth Tax Can Help the Economy
A New York Times article explained that proponents of a federal wealth tax hope to address exploding inequality but then went on to list the fears of billionaires and economic policymakers, finding that “the idea of redistributing wealth by targeting billionaires is stirring fierce debates at the highest ranks of academia and business, with opponents arguing it would cripple economic growth, sap the motivation of entrepreneurs who aspire to be multimillionaires and set off a search for loopholes.” A wealth tax will not damage our economy and instead would likely improve it. Here’s why.
blog September 27, 2019
The Nation’s Income Inequality Challenge Explained in Charts
Income inequality has reached its highest level since the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking the measure more than 50 years ago, according to recent data. While recent Census data show modest increases in median household income and average hourly wages—numbers anti-tax politicians and pundits have used to deny rising inequality—a deeper look at some of the latest numbers reveals a decades-long trend of widening economic inequality.
blog September 10, 2019
How Tax Policy Can Help Mitigate Poverty, Address Income Inequality
Analysts at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy have produced multiple recent briefs and reports that provide insight on how current and proposed tax policies affect family economic security and income inequality.
blog September 4, 2019
Why Local Jurisdictions’ Heavy Reliance on Fines and Fees Is a Tax Policy Issue
The exposé (Addicted to Fines: Small Towns Are Dangerously Dependent) raises two important issues that policymakers have the power to address. One, lack of revenue at the local level is linked to a broader challenge with state tax systems. Two, fines and fees often entrap lower-income people in a cycle of debt and, in some jurisdictions, ultimately criminalize poverty by casting unpaid fines as misdemeanor crimes.
blog August 28, 2019
Updated Estimates from ITEP: Trump Tax Law Still Benefits the Rich No Matter How You Look at It
President Trump’s allies in Congress continue to defend their 2017 tax law in misleading ways. Just last week, Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee stated that most “of the tax overhaul went into the pockets of working families and Main Street businesses who need it most, not Wall Street.” ITEP’s most recent analysis estimates that in 2020 the richest 5 percent of taxpayers will receive $145 billion in tax cuts, or half the law’s benefits to U.S. taxpayers.
blog August 2, 2019
Opportunity Zones Have Nothing to Do with Reparations, Except …
Among other things, this blog highlights how federal, state and local policies systematically work to reinforce the racial wealth gap by, for example, using the tax code to redistribute the nation’s wealth to billionaire developers and keeping low-income people of color in a perpetual cycle of debt through fines and fees to fund local governments. Opportunity zones and the top-heavy 2017 tax law are emblematic of a long history of policymaking that advantages wealthy white families.
blog May 17, 2019
Bootstraps Remain an Ineffective Tool for Combatting Poverty
Policymakers and the public widely agree that economic inequality is the social policy problem of our age. It threatens the livelihoods of millions of children and adults, and it even threatens our democracy. Although some say Americans could fix it themselves by simply rolling up their sleeves, as a sub-headline in a March U.S. News and World Report column implied, the reality is different.
report April 12, 2019
The Case For Progressive Revenue Policies
Income inequality is a national challenge. And inadequate federal revenue is a challenge that the nation will eventually have to reckon with. This chart book makes a strong case for why federal lawmakers should seriously consider progressive revenue-raising options.
blog January 30, 2019
Why We Should Talk about Progressive Taxes Despite Billionaires’ ObjectionsIt was the tone-deaf remark heard ‘round the world. Last week on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested that furloughed government employees who hadn’t been paid in a…
blog September 12, 2018
Observations from Census Data on Poverty and Income
Today’s poverty and income data show that income continues to concentrate at the top; in fact, the top 20 percent continue to capture 51.5 percent of income. Meanwhile, average income for the poorest 20 percent of households is less today than it was 18 years ago.
blog August 15, 2018
1964: Unconditional War on Poverty; 2018: Unconditional War on the PoorDuring his first State of the Union address in January 1964, Lyndon Baines Johnson declared a War on Poverty in response to a national poverty rate of more than 19…
blog June 27, 2018
Rigging the System and Poor Shaming (Rightly) Are Incompatible Political StrategiesThe absurdity of blaming poor and moderate-income people for their circumstances is close to running its course as an effective political tool, particularly as some elected officials more boldly assert…
blog February 20, 2018
Why We’re Not Eternally Grateful for $1,000 Crumbs
Two narratives that intentionally obscure who benefits from the tax law are emerging. One focuses on the personal income tax cuts that will result in an increase in net take-home pay for many employees once their employers adjust withholding. Anecdotes abound of working people getting a $100 or more increase, after taxes, per paycheck, but the reality is that most workers will receive a lot less than that. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 1 percent of households will receive an average annual tax break of $55,000, an amount that nearly eclipses the nation’s median household income.
blog December 4, 2017
They Can’t Help Themselves: GOP Leaders Reveal True Intent Behind Tax Overhaul
The hand-written scrawls in the margins of the hastily written 500-page Senate tax bill had barely dried when lawmakers began to reveal the true motivation behind their rush to fundamentally overhaul the nation’s tax code.
blog November 14, 2017
The Bottom 40 Percent Has Grown Poorer, So Why Are Tax Cut Plans Focused on the Rich and Corporations?
The bottom line is that the rich and corporations are doing fine. We don’t need legislative solutions that fix non-existent problems. Only in a world of alternative facts does the top 0.2 percent of estates need to be exempt from the estate tax, for example.
blog September 14, 2017
Census Data Reveal Modest Gains for Working People; GOP Tax Overhaul Could Reverse These GainsOn the surface, census poverty and income data released Tuesday reveal the nation’s economic conditions are improving for working families. The federal poverty rate declined for the second consecutive year…
blog May 30, 2017
Avocado Toast, iPhones, Billionairesplaining and the Trump BudgetA couple weeks ago, a billionaire set the Internet ablaze when on 60 Minutes Australia he chided millennials to stop buying avocado toast and fancy coffee if they wanted to…