At least 55 of the largest corporations in America paid no federal corporate income taxes in their most recent fiscal year despite enjoying substantial pretax profits in the United States. This continues a decades-long trend of corporate tax avoidance by the biggest U.S. corporations, and it appears to be the product of long-standing tax breaks preserved or expanded by the 2017 tax law as well as the CARES Act tax breaks enacted in the spring of 2020.
report April 2, 2021
55 Corporations Paid $0 in Federal Taxes on 2020 Profits
report April 2, 2021
Corporate Tax Reform in the Wake of the PandemicRead as PDF Note: This report is adapted from written testimony submitted by Amy Hanauer before testifying in person to the Senate Budget Committee on March 25, 2021. In 2020,…
report March 31, 2021
Taxes and Racial Equity: An Overview of State and Local Policy Impacts
Historic and current injustices, both in public policy and in broader society, have resulted in vast disparities in income and wealth across race and ethnicity. Employment discrimination has denied good job opportunities to people of color. An uneven system of public education funding advantages wealthier white people and produces unequal educational outcomes. Racist policies such as redlining and discrimination in lending practices have denied countless Black families the opportunity to become homeowners or business owners, creating extraordinary differences in intergenerational wealth. These inequities have long-lasting effects that compound over time.
report March 7, 2021
Estimates of Cash Payment and Tax Credit Provisions in American Rescue Plan
Update: On March 10, the House passed the Senate version of the COVID relief bill, called the American Rescue Plan Act, and sent it to President Biden for his signature. This means that the Senate version of the bill described herein is the final legislation enacted into law.
report February 24, 2021
Comparing Flat-Rate Income Tax Options for Alaska
Alaska lawmakers are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. The state is more dependent than any other on oil tax and royalty revenues but declines in oil prices and production levels have sapped much of the vitality of these revenue sources. One way of diversifying the state’s revenue stream and narrowing the yawning gap between state revenues and expenses would be to reinstitute a statewide personal income tax. Alaska previously levied such a tax until 1980. This report contains ITEP’s analysis of the distributional impact and revenue potential of a variety of flat-rate income tax options for Alaska, based on draft legislation provided by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee.
report January 26, 2021
Child Tax Credit Enhancements Under the American Rescue Plan
President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package, the American Rescue Plan, includes a significant expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The president’s proposal provides a $125 billion boost in funding for the program, which would essentially double the size of the existing federal credit for households with children. Combined with existing law, the CTC provisions in Biden’s plan would provide a 37.4 percent income boost to the poorest 20 percent of families with children who make $21,300 or less a year.
report September 17, 2020
Illinois’s Flat Tax Exacerbates Income Inequality and Racial Wealth Gaps
Flat or graduated personal income taxes have varying effects on the annual individual tax liabilities of taxpayers at different income levels. Less examined is how tax structures affect income inequality and racial wealth gaps. This brief illustrates how Illinois’s historic flat income tax structure compares to the proposed Fair Tax through a multi-year retrospective analysis. It shows that Illinois’s flat income tax in lieu of a graduated rate tax used by most states amounts to a tax subsidy for the wealthiest Illinoisans that compounds income inequality and racial wealth gaps.
report July 21, 2020
An Updated Analysis of a Potential Payroll Tax Holiday
ITEP estimates that if Congress and the president eliminated all Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes paid by employers and employees from Sept. 1 through the end of the year, 64 percent of the benefits would go the richest 20 percent of taxpayers and 24 percent of the benefits would go to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers, as illustrated in the table below. The total cost of this hypothetical proposal would be $336 billion.
report July 16, 2020
Trade Deals Aren’t Enough: Fixing the Tax Code to Bring American Jobs Back
We all need the public sector to protect public health, keep us safe, educate our children, and much more. Companies, particularly multinational corporations, could not function without the legal, infrastructure, financial, regulatory, health, and transportation resources that the government provides.
report July 14, 2020
Who Pays Taxes in America in 2020?
Having a sound understanding of who pays taxes and how much is a particularly relevant question now as the nation grapples with a health and economic crisis that is devastating lower-income families and requiring all levels of government to invest more in keeping individuals, families and communities afloat. This year, the share of all taxes paid by the richest 1 percent of Americans (24.3 percent) will be just a bit higher than the share of all income going to this group (20.9 percent). The share of all taxes paid by the poorest fifth of Americans (2 percent) will be just a bit lower than the share of all income going to this group (2.8 percent).
report June 30, 2020
Republican Tax Credit Proposal Would Provide New Breaks to Tax Avoiders Like Amazon and Netflix
While lawmakers of both parties and policy experts discuss various ways to respond to the continuing COVID-19 crisis and resulting economic downturn, Republicans in Congress are offering a new solution. Their idea, which is still being discussed, is to waive existing limits on business tax credits. This could benefit corporations that are profitable but that nonetheless pay no taxes or very little in taxes because of the many tax breaks and legal loopholes they already enjoy.
report June 2, 2020
Depreciation Breaks Have Saved 20 Major Corporations $26.5 Billion Over Past Two Years
The Trump administration and its congressional allies have proposed making permanent the expensing provision in the Trump-GOP tax law. Expensing is the most extreme form of accelerated depreciation, which allows businesses to deduct the cost of purchasing equipment more quickly than it wears out. But expensing and other types of accelerated depreciation already account for a very large share of corporate tax breaks and allows many companies to pay nothing at all.
report May 15, 2020
Major Cash Payment and Tax Provisions in the HEROES Act
The major provisions for cash payments and tax changes in the House Democrats’ Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act would provide nearly $600 billion to individuals and households and average benefits of more than $3,000 to families in all but the highest income levels.
report May 8, 2020
Harris-Sanders-Markey Cash Payment Proposal Would Dwarf Checks Sent Under the CARES Act
Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Edward Markey released a proposal to provide a monthly payment of $2,000 for each member of a household (including up to three dependents), with benefits phased out at income levels starting at $200,000 for married couples. The proposal is partly a response to concerns that one-time cash payments under the CARES Act, which amount to $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples) and $500 for each child under age 17, are not sufficient to help families make ends meet or boost the economy.
report April 15, 2020
State Options to Shore up Revenues and Improve Tax Codes amid Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinarily challenging time, as we see harm and struggle affecting the vast majority of our families, businesses, public services, and economic sectors. No one will be unaffected by the crisis, and everyone has a stake in the recovery and faces tough decisions. In the world of state fiscal policy, where revenue shortfalls are likely to be far bigger than can be filled by the initial $150 billion in federal aid or absorbed through funding cuts without causing major harm, tax increases must be among those decisions. Even with more federal support, states will need home-grown revenue solutions in the short, medium, and long terms as the crisis and its fiscal fallout intensify, subside, and eventually give way to a new normal. States must balance their budgets, and research shows that they harm their economies when they choose deep funding cuts to vital public investments over increasing tax contributions from those who can afford them.
report March 25, 2020
Tax Rebates in the Federal CARES ActData available for download Congress passed and the president signed a $2 trillion plan that includes $150 billion in fiscal aid to states, $150 billion in health care spending, large…
report March 13, 2020
Trump’s Proposed Payroll Tax Elimination
President Trump has proposed to eliminate payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare through the end of the year. ITEP estimates that this would cost $843 billion and 65 percent of the benefits would go to the richest 20 percent of taxpayers, as illustrated in the table below.
report February 5, 2020
State Itemized Deductions: Surveying the Landscape, Exploring Reforms
State itemized deductions are generally patterned after federal law, though nearly every state makes significant changes to the menu of deductions available or the extent to which those deductions are allowed. This report summarizes the key details of each state’s itemized deduction policies and discusses various options for reforming those deductions with a focus on lessening their regressive impact and reducing their cost to state budgets.
report December 19, 2019
Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Proposed EITC Expansion
Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s proposal An Economic Agenda for American Families: Empowering Working and Middle Class Americans to Thrive would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as modeled by the Working Families Tax Relief Act.
report December 16, 2019
Corporate Tax Avoidance in the First Year of the Trump Tax Law
Profitable Fortune 500 companies avoided $73.9 billion in taxes under the first year of the Trump-GOP tax law. The study includes financial filings by 379 Fortune 500 companies that were profitable in 2018; it excludes companies that reported a loss.
report December 12, 2019
States Should Decouple from Costly Federal Opportunity Zones and Reject Look-Alike Programs
Post enactment of TCJA, lawmakers in most states needed to decide how to respond to the creation of this new program. Given the shortcomings of the federal Opportunity Zones program and its added potential costs to states, the most prudent course of action is three-pronged: States should move quickly to decouple; states should reject look-alike programs; and lawmakers should make investments directly into economically distressed areas.
report December 9, 2019
Cannabis Legalization: Tax Cut or Tax Hike?
Understanding the full tax consequences of cannabis legalization requires evaluating not only the excise taxes proposed in most legalization bills, but also the effects on the federal income tax liability of cannabis businesses.
report October 28, 2019
Benefits of a Financial Transaction Tax
A financial transaction tax (FTT) has the potential to curb inequality, reduce market inefficiencies, and raise hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue over the next decade. Presidential candidates have proposed using an FTT to fund expanding Medicare, education, child care, and investments in children’s health. Any of these public investments would be progressive, narrowing resource gaps between the most vulnerable families and the most fortunate.