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Tax Policy

LIFT Act Benefits Go To Middle Class

Last month, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced her tax plan, the LIFT the Middle Class Act. This bill aims to give monthly payments to Americans who qualify in the form of a tax credit. Penn Wharton Budget Model has analyzed the potential impact of the LIFT Act on the budget and effective marginal tax rates. We find the proposal would cost the federal government approximately $3.1 trillion over the ten-year budget window and an additional $3.7 trillion over the following decade.

25 Cents Per Gallon Doubles Tax Revenue for Highways

In contrast to earlier this year, November has seen consecutive days of falling oil prices. This drop has led to lower costs for consumers at the pump. With the annual growth rate of investment in public infrastructure slowing, some have suggested that now is the time to increase the federal gas tax. Recently, a former Secretary of Transportation urged the Administration to seize the opportunity to raise the gas tax. In the past, President Trump has endorsed an increase of 25 cents per gallon. The last increase in the federal gas tax was a quarter century ago in 1993 to 18.4 cents per gallon.

Lower Corporate Debt Projected Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

In 2017, corporations had a lower cash to debt ratio than ever before. However, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed in December of 2017 reduced, but didn’t eliminate, the tax incentives for firms to take on debt. Therefore, PWBM projects that corporate debt will be seven to nine percent lower going forward.

Analyzing the Budgetary and Incentive Effects of Senator Kamala Harris’s Proposed LIFT Act

Senator Kamala Harris recently announced a proposal to establish a new refundable tax credit. This proposal (henceforth referred to as the “LIFT credit”) would be similar in design to the existing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), providing large payments -- up to $6,000 annually for married filers -- to low- and middle-income households. The LIFT credit would be available to households with either labor earnings or Pell grants, and would offer an option to receive benefit payments monthly rather than yearly. PWBM’s preliminary analysis suggests that on a conventional scoring basis, this policy would cost nearly $3.1 trillion over the ten year budget window (2019-2028), and would substantially change effective marginal tax rates for certain households.

The Economic Boost from the Tax Bill is Temporary

On October 11, 2018, the CNN show, “Quest Means Business” features a heated debate about the recent rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and President Trump’s disapproval of them, in which he cites recent economic growth. Opinion columnist for “The Washington Post”, Catherine Rampell, cites PWBM — alongside the Congressional Budget OfficeInternational Monetary Fund, and Federal Reserve — as finding that the economic boost from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is temporary.

As Predicted TCJA Isn’t Paying For Itself: Confirmed by Figures from the Treasury Department

Jim Tankersley emphasized how recent tax reform will not pay for itself in his New York Times article, "No, Trump’s Tax Cut Isn’t Paying for Itself (at Least Not Yet)." Even though federal revenues increased marginally in 2018, it will not be enough to cover the tax cut. On October 15th, the Treasury Department announced that despite economic growth and low unemployment, the federal budget deficit grew by 17 percent.

Tax Reform 2.0 Projected to Cost $614 Billion Over 10 Years

In Yes, the Tax Cuts Have Cost the U.S. Treasury Money Bloomberg’s Justin Fox describes how tax revenue in 2018 is lower than tax revenue in 2017. Over the first six months of 2018, the cost of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was generally in line with PWBM’s December projections.

Analysis of "Tax Reform 2.0"

Analysis of "Tax Reform 2.0"
  • Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee introduced “Tax Reform 2.0” that includes new incentives to start up a business, enhanced savings accounts and makes permanent the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

  • In April of 2018, PWBM anticipated and estimated the effects of the largest piece of this legislation that makes the TCJA individual tax cuts permanent.

  • This brief updates that analysis for the new 10-year budget window and incorporates the rest of the provisions in “Tax Reform 2.0.”

Trading Tangible for Intangible: The Incentives Created by GILTI and FDII in the TCJA

The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) contains two key international tax provisions: the tax on Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) and the reduced tax rate on Foreign Derived Intangible Income (FDII). These provisions were designed to encourage United States-based multinationals to locate intangible intellectual property in the U.S. rather than in foreign jurisdictions. However, an aspect that is overlooked is that these same provisions also create incentives for U.S. firms to acquire tangible assets abroad and to sell tangible assets in the U.S. Future monitoring of these activities is required to assess the extent to which U.S. multinationals will shift production overseas in response to the incentives created by GILTI and FDII.

Estimates of TCJA Repatriation of Foreign Earnings on Investment and GDP

An important part of the discussion surrounding the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was the accumulation of untaxed profits in U.S. corporations’ foreign subsidiaries, which were estimated to be as high as $2.8 trillion in 2017. Before 2018, these earnings were generally not subject to U.S. taxes unless they were paid to the U.S. parent corporation as a dividend (“repatriated”), leading many companies to accumulate profits abroad. The TCJA introduced a deemed repatriation provision, which provides a tax “holiday” for foreign earnings by taxing them at a reduced rate of 15.5 percent on cash and eight percent on other assets. Speaker Paul Ryan argued that the TCJA’s tax holiday for foreign dividend payments directly affects the economy because, “money will come back and that will help economic growth.” Indeed, many companies have already committed to significant repatriation amounts, with Apple notably pledging to pay $38 billion in tax on repatriated income.

For Every Gain, a Loss: New IRS Regulations Reduce the Cost of Tax Cuts For Pass-Through Business Owners

The passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act brought with it a new 20 percent deduction for income earned from a pass-through business. The IRS recently released proposed regulations that clarify some of the issues associated with the new deduction. Our model suggests that depending on the effectiveness of the regulations, the overall cost of the deduction could be reduced between $54 and $65 billion over the 10-year budget window.

No Bang for the Bucks - Indexing Capital Gains Doesn’t Lead to Economic Growth

In this blog entry, we use PWBM’s OLG model to explore the dynamic effects of capital gains indexation, which includes the impact of the proposed policy change on economic growth. We project that this policy change will produce no meaningful economic feedback effect over the next decade.

86% of Gains from Indexing Capital Gains Goes to Top 1%

Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley of The New York Times cite Penn Wharton Budget Model’s forecast of the fiscal and social effects of adjusting capital gain taxes for inflation in their piece, Trump Administration Mulls a Unilateral Tax Cut for the Rich.

Cost of Tax Reform Meets PWBM’s Expectations

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department reported that federal tax receipts fell seven percent from June 2017 to June 2018, largely due to a 34 percent decline in corporate income tax receipts. While significant revenue loss is expected in 2018 following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) last December, the size of the recent decline raised concerns that the legislation may be costing more than anticipated.

Strong 2018 Q2 Economic Growth Unsustainable

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell uses Penn Wharton Budget Model’s analysis of tax reform to delve into the implications behind strong second quarter U.S. economic growth in The economy’s great. That doesn’t mean Trumponomics is.

TCJA Projected to Lower 2018 Charity Giving by $22 Billion

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) overhauled many elements of the US federal tax code, some of which will serve to reduce the tax incentive to make charitable contributions.

Consumers Getting Hit at the Pump

In Small Towns Are Booming, Thanks to Rising Oil Prices, The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Elliot and Harriet Torry cite PWBM research on the recent rise in gas prices.

New Tax Law Set to Trigger Conversions From Pass-Through Entities to C-Corporations

Politico’s Ben White and Aubree Eliza Weaver write about the Penn Wharton Budget Model’s projection of business entity classification conversions in the aftermath of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in Morning Money: The Big Switch from Pass-Throughs.

Projecting the Mass Conversion from Pass-Through Entities to C-Corporations

Projecting the Mass Conversion from Pass-Through Entities to C-Corporations
  • We project that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will cause 235,780 U.S. business owners---77 percent of whom have incomes of at least $500,000---to switch from pass-through entity owners to C-corporations, primarily to take advantage of sheltering their income from tax by converting to C-corporations.

  • The biggest switchers include doctors, lawyers and investors, especially if owners can afford to defer receipt of business income to a later year. Other business owners, who are qualified to use the 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income, including painters, plumbers, and printers, are more likely to remain as pass-through entities.

  • We project that about 17.5 percent of all pass-through Ordinary Business Income will switch to C-corporations.

Recent Rise in Gas Prices Offsets Some Households’ Gains from Tax Cuts

As noted in our brief, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the direct tax liability of individuals by an estimated $1.3 billion, before considering macroeconomic feedback effects, over the period 2018-27. This reduction was achieved through a number of provisions that changed the individual income tax structure. Table 1 presents the average tax cut received by Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) percentile in 2018. The overall median tax cut is $401, with larger cuts going to groups with larger AGI.