Congressional Republicans have proposed legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including rolling back a number of tax changes that were enacted to pay for the ACA’s health care expansions. Among these tax changes are two targeted income tax increases that took effect in 2013, each of which apply only to a small number of the wealthiest Americans: the net investment tax and additional Medicare tax. Repealing these two taxes would cost over $31 billion a year if implemented in tax year 2016, and 85 percent of the benefit from repealing these taxes would go to the best off 1 percent of Americans nationwide.
This analysis includes a 50-state breakdown of these impacts.
A growing number of Americans are getting rides or booking short-term accommodations through online platforms such as Uber and Airbnb. This is nothing new in concept; brokers have operated for hundreds of years as go-betweens for producers and consumers. The ease with which this can be done through the Internet, however, has led to millions of people using these services, and to some of the nation’s fastest-growing, high-profile businesses.
The rise of this on-demand sector, sometimes referred to as the “gig economy” or, by its promoters, the “sharing economy,” has raised a host of questions. For state and local governments, one of them is: How do the services provided by these companies fit into the current tax system? All three of the major categories of revenue sources relied upon by state and local governments, including consumption taxes, income taxes, and property taxes, are impacted to some extent by the on-demand economy. While Uber, Airbnb, and similar on-demand companies are still relatively small in relation to the overall U.S. economy (accounting for 0.5 percent of the U.S. workforce), they are large enough to have a meaningful impact on state tax collections, and their explosive growth and entry into new lines of business will amplify their importance in the years ahead.
Profitable corporations are subject to a 35 percent federal income tax rate on their U.S. profits. But many corporations pay far less, or nothing at all, because of the many tax loopholes and special breaks they enjoy. This report documents just how successful many Fortune 500 corporations have been at using loopholes and special breaks over the past eight years. As lawmakers look to reform the corporate tax code, this report shows that the focus of any overhaul should be on closing loopholes rather than on cutting tax rates.
Public debates over federal immigration reform, specifically around undocumented immigrants, often suffer from insufficient and inaccurate information about the tax contributions of undocumented immigrants, particularly at the state level. The truth is that undocumented immigrants living in the United States paybillions of dollars each year in state and local taxes. Further, these tax contributions would increase significantly if all undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States were granted a pathway to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration reform. Or put in the reverse, if undocumented immigrants are deported in high numbers, state and local revenues could take a substantial hit.
In the summer of 2016, House Republicans released a blueprint for tax reform that is likely to be used as the starting point for major tax legislation in 2017. One of the most radical provisions is a proposal to shift the corporate tax code from a residence-based to a destination-based system through applying a border adjustment on exports and imports. This proposal has major flaws that would make it a challenge to implement. Further, it is inherently regressive, rife with loopholes and would violate international agreements.
Every state levies taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, usually just called “gas taxes.” These taxes are an important source of state revenue–particularly for transportation–but their poor design has resulted in sluggish revenue growth that fails to keep pace with state infrastructure needs. This ITEP Policy Brief explains how state gas taxes work, their importance as a transportation revenue source, the problems confronting gas taxes, and the types of gas tax reforms that are needed to overcome these problems.
Below is a list of notable resources for information on state taxes and revenues: Alabama Alabama Department of Revenue Alabama Department of Finance – Executive Budget Office Alabama Department of…
Below is a list of tax expenditure reports published in the states: Alabama Report on Alabama Tax Expenditures Alaska Revenue Sources Book Arizona The Revenue Impact of Arizona’s Tax Expenditures…
When states shy away from personal income taxes in favor of higher sales and excise taxes, high-income taxpayers benefit at the expense of low- and moderate-income families who often face above-average tax rates to pick up the slack. This chart book demonstrates this basic reality by examining the distribution of taxes in states that have pursued these types of policies. Given the detrimental impact that regressive tax policies have on economic opportunity, income inequality, revenue adequacy, and long-run revenue sustainability, tax reform proponents should look to the least regressive, rather than most regressive, states in crafting their proposals.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker recently proposed tripling his state’s motor fuel tax rates. While a variety of fuel types would be affected by this proposal, three-fourths (or $60 million) of the revenue raised each year would come from higher taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel–sometimes referred to as highway fuels–purchased by Alaska motorists.
Absent any national or historical context, tripling Alaska’s gasoline and diesel fuel tax rates may sound like a radical policy change. But an adjustment of this size is necessary because Alaska lawmakers have not updated the state’s basic highway fuel tax rate since May 1970–almost 47 years ago. Because of this inaction, Alaska’s highway fuel tax has become an outlier when compared to other states’ tax rates, or when compared to Alaska’s own history.
This brief discusses four ways in which Alaska’s highway fuel tax is an outlier:
One of the central questions for lawmakers looking to reform the federal tax code this year is how to address the $2.5 trillion in earnings that U.S. companies are holding offshore to avoid taxes. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have supported proposals that would either require or allow companies to repatriate these earnings to the United States at a discounted tax rate. These proposals have ranged from letting companies repatriate their earnings tax-free to requiring them to immediately pay a discounted rate of 20 percent. All of the proposals would give corporations a substantial tax discount and forego much-needed revenue.
For years, wealth and income inequality have been widening at a troubling pace. A recent study estimated that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans held 42 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2012, up from 28 percent in 1989. Public policies have exacerbated this trend by taxing income earned from investments at a lower rate than income from an ordinary job and by dramatically cutting taxes on inherited wealth. Further, lawmakers have done little to stop aggressive accounting schemes designed to avoid the estate tax altogether.
The federal estate tax is one of our most progressive sources of revenue and a critical tool in the fight against rising wealth inequality. Congressional legislation has significantly eroded the tax over the years, and now it is levied on only the wealthiest 0.2% of estates, meaning that 99.8% of estates will have no federal estate tax liability. The estate tax should be not only preserved but restored to a historical level to increase revenues and ensure more progressivity in the tax system.
In his acceptance speech, President-elect Donald Trump placed a heavy emphasis on the need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. In theory, expanded investments in our nation’s infrastructure could generate wide support among the public and within Congress. And yet Congressional negotiations on this issue have repeatedly broken down because of disagreements over how to fund those investments. Unfortunately, a flawed proposal for new funding put forth by Mr. Trump fails to offer a realistic path forward.
Corporations falsely claim that they have to engage in offshore tax avoidance maneuvers because the U.S. corporate tax rate is too high, an argument which has unfortunately found an audience in lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In 2017, Congress likely will evaluate a number of approaches to taxing the trillions of dollars corporations currently hold offshore. This report explains and evaluates these proposals, including a so-called repatriation holiday and deemed repatriation. Further, it explains why ending deferral of taxes on U.S. multinational corporations’ foreign earnings could halt the widespread corporate practice of funneling money to subsidiaries for the express purpose of avoiding taxes.
Fortune 500 corporations collectively have stashed $2.5 trillion in profits offshore, on which they have avoided up to $718 billion in taxes. It’s no wonder that policymakers on both sides of the aisle are weighing legislative options to either tax these profits or create an incentive for corporations to “repatriate” or bring these profits to the United States so that they are subject to taxation.
Lawmakers have introduced several “repatriation” proposals that would glean tax revenue from these offshore profits. But the only solution that will ensure corporations pay taxes on their offshore profits AND shut down the practice of stashing cash offshore is to end deferral, the tax code loophole that allows corporations to indefinitely avoid paying taxes on profits stashed offshore.
Chart comparing House GOP Tax Plan, Trump’s Initial Tax Proposal and Trump’s Revised Tax Proposal.
The concept of taxing sodas and other sugary beverages has gained traction recently across the United States and around the world. The World Health Organization officially recommended a tax on sugar sweetened beverages as a way to battle the obesity epidemic. In the US, multiple states and localities have looked to taxes on sugar sweetened beverages as a way to improve public health and increase revenue. In 2014, Berkeley, California became the first U.S. locality to enact such a tax. In 2016, similar taxes were enacted in Boulder, Colorado; Albany, Oakland, and San Francisco, California; Cook County, Illinois; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
This report explains the workings, and problems, with state-level tax subsidies for private K-12 education. It also discusses how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has exacerbated some of these problems by allowing taxpayers to claim federal charitable deductions even on private school contributions that were not truly charitable in nature. Finally, an appendix to this report provides additional detail on the specific K-12 private school tax subsidies made available by each state.
This study explores how in 2015 Fortune 500 companies used tax haven subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes on much of their income. It reveals that tax haven use is now standard practice among the Fortune 500 and that a handful of the country’s wealthiest corporations benefit the most from this tax avoidance scheme.
We appreciate the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) ongoing review of its accounting standards to ensure that financial statements are “facilitating clear communication of information that is important to financial statement users.” Overall, the changes to disclosure requirements proposed by FASB in the exposure draft would represent a significant step forward toward providing users of financial statements the clarity that they need. We believe, however, that the exposure draft does not go far enough in providing the clarity needed and sought by investors and the public alike.
Despite this unlevel playing field states create for their poorest residents through existing policies, many state policymakers have proposed (and in some cases enacted) tax increases on the poor under the guise of “tax reform,” often to finance tax cuts for their wealthiest residents and profitable corporations.
This brief outlines the causes of Louisiana’s infrastructure revenue shortfall and offers recommendations for how the state can achieve “sufficient increased levels of recurring funding to address the transportation backlog in highway and bridge maintenance needs in Louisiana,” as per the Task Force’s mandate.
Read this report in PDF. This month, Alaska legislators regroup in yet another special session where they will consider legislation to address a yawning budget gap created by declining oil…
A new distributional analysis of Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” policies finds that the plan would: • Add $4 trillion to the national debt over a…
An updated version of this report has been published with data through July 1, 2017. Read this Policy Brief in PDF form Many states’ transportation budgets are in disarray, in…
Alaskans are faced with a stark fiscal reality. Following the discovery of oil in the 1960s and 1970s, state lawmakers repealed their personal income tax and began funding government primarily through oil tax and royalty revenues. For decades, oil revenues filled roughly 90 percent of the state’s general fund.
Read full report in PDF Download detailed appendix with state-by-state information on deductions and credits (Excel) Every state levying a personal income tax offers at least one deduction or credit…
This report was updated in March 2017 Read as a PDF. (Includes Full Appendix of State-by-State Data) Report Landing Page Public debates over federal immigration reform often suffer from insufficient…
Read PDF of report. Tennessee lawmakers are giving serious consideration to repealing their state’s “Hall Tax” on investment income (so named for the state senator who sponsored the legislation creating…
In recent months, the Tax Foundation has used its Taxes and Growth Model (TAG Model) to estimate the impact that a variety of tax policy changes would have on the nation’s economy–including tax plans proposed by current presidential candidates.
The Tax Foundation describes the underlying “logic” of its TAG Model as being rooted in the assumption that “taxes have a major impact on economic growth.” More specifically, the TAG Model has concluded that proposals to lower taxes for high-income individuals and businesses would dramatically grow the economy, and that proposals to raise taxes would significantly slow economic growth.
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.
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.
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.
The U.S. Census Bureau released data in September showing that the share of Americans living in poverty remains high. In 2014, the national poverty rate was 14.8 percent – statistically unchanged from the previous year. However, the poverty rate remains 2.3 percentage points higher than it was in 2007, before the Great Recession, indicating that recent economic gains have not yet reached all households and that there is much room for improvement. The 2014 measure translates to more than 46.7 million – more than 1 in 7 – Americans living in poverty. Most state poverty rates also held steady between 2013 and 2014 though twelve states experienced a decline.
Annual data from the U.S. Census Bureau appear to lend support to Tennessee’s reputation as a “low tax state,” ranking it 50th nationally in taxes collected as a share of personal income.1 But focusing on the state’s overall tax revenues has led many observers to overlook the fact that different taxpayers experience Tennessee’s tax system very differently. In particular, the poorest 20 percent of Tennessee residents pay significantly more of their income (10.9 percent) in state and local taxes than any other group in the state. For low-income families, Tennessee is far from being a low tax state.2 In fact, only thirteen states tax their poorest residents more heavily than Tennessee.
Annual data from the U.S. Census Bureau appear to lend support to South Dakota’s reputation as a “low tax state,” ranking it 51st nationally in taxes collected as a share of personal income, the lowest overall tax state.1 But focusing on the state’s overall tax revenues has led many observers to overlook the fact that different taxpayers experience South Dakota’s tax system very differently. In particular, the poorest 20 percent of South Dakota residents pay significantly more of their income (11.3 percent) in state and local taxes than any other group in the state. For low-income families, South Dakota is far from being a low tax state.2 In fact, only eleven states tax their poorest residents more heavily than South Dakota.
Annual data from the U.S. Census Bureau appear to lend support to Washington’s reputation as a “low tax state,” ranking it 36th nationally in taxes collected as a share of personal income.1 But focusing on the state’s overall tax revenues has led many observers to overlook the fact that different taxpayers experience Washington’s tax system very differently. In particular, the poorest 20 percent of Washington residents pay significantly more of their income (16.8 percent) in state and local taxes than any other group in the state. For low-income families, Washington is far from being a low tax state.2 In fact, Washington is the highest tax state in the country for poor people.
Annual data from the U.S. Census Bureau appear to lend support to Florida’s reputation as a “low tax state,” ranking it 48th nationally in taxes collected as a share of personal income.1 But focusing on the state’s overall tax revenues has led many observers to overlook the fact that different taxpayers experience Florida’s tax system very differently. In particular, the poorest 20 percent of Florida residents pay significantly more of their income (12.9 percent) in state and local taxes than any other group in the state. For low-income families, Florida is far from being a low tax state.2 In fact, only three states tax their poorest residents more heavily than Florida.
Annual data from the U.S. Census Bureau appear to lend support to Texas’ reputation as a “low tax state,” ranking it 39th nationally in taxes collected as a share of personal income.1 But focusing on the state’s overall tax revenues has led many observers to overlook the fact that different taxpayers experience Texas’ tax system very differently. In particular, the poorest 20 percent of Texans pay significantly more of their income (12.5 percent) in state and local taxes than any other group in the state. 2 For low-income families, Texas is far from being a low tax state. In fact, only six states tax their poorest residents more heavily than Texas.
Annual data from the U.S. Census Bureau appears to lend support to Arizona’s reputation as a “low tax state,” ranking it 37th nationally in taxes collected as a share of personal income.1 But focusing on the state’s overall tax revenues has led many observers to overlook the fact that different taxpayers experience Arizona’s tax system very differently. In particular, the poorest 20 percent of Arizona residents pay significantly more of their income (12.5 percent) in state and local taxes than any other group in the state.2 For low-income families, Arizona is far from being a low tax state. In fact, only four states tax their poorest residents more heavily than Arizona.
The federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is the single most important mechanism for funding maintenance and improvements to the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Absent Congressional action, however, the HTF will face insolvency at the end of July. Unfortunately, despite the critical importance of infrastructure to the U.S. economy, the condition of the HTF has been allowed to deteriorate to the point that imminent insolvency has become entirely normal.
Read as a PDF. Table of Contents Introduction Why Tax Marijuana? Designing a State Tax on Marijuana How Much Revenue Would Marijuana Legalization Generate for States Factors that Could Negatively…
This report was updated February 2016 Read as a PDF. (Includes Full Appendix of State-by-State Data) Report Landing Page In the public debates over federal immigration reform, sufficient and accurate information…
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.
An updated version of this report has been published with data through July 1, 2017. Read the report in PDF form. Many states’ transportation budgets are in disarray, in part…
Read as a PDF. A proposal to eliminate Idaho’s Grocery Credit Refund and create a sales tax exemption for all grocery purchases would reduce state revenues by roughly $34 million…
Read the Report in PDF Form The Census Bureau released data in September showing that the share of Americans living in poverty remains high. In 2013, the national poverty rate…
Sales taxes are an important revenue source, comprising close to half of all state revenues in 2013. But sales taxes are also inherently regressive because the lower a family’s income, the more of its income the family must spend on things subject to the tax.
For much of the last century, estate and inheritance taxes have played an important role in helping states to adequately fund public services in a way that improves the progressivity of state tax systems. While many of the taxes levied by state and local governments fall most heavily on low-income families, only the very wealthy pay estate and inheritance taxes.
Recent changes in the federal estate tax, however, culminating in the “fiscal cliff ” deal of early 2013, have forced states to reevaluate the structure of their estate and inheritance taxes. Unfortunately, the trend of late has tended toward weakening or completely eliminating state estate taxes. This policy brief discusses inheritance and estate taxes and how states can adopt these important components of a progressive tax structure.