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.
Senate Democrats propose spending $1,022 billion on public infrastructure over the next 10 years, financed with taxes on personal income and corporate income.
An additional dollar of federal aid could lead state and local governments to increase total infrastructure spending by less than that dollar since state and local governments can often qualify for the new grant money within their existing and planned infrastructure programs. Based on an extensive literature review, we estimate that infrastructure investment across all levels of government increases between $225 billion and $1,039 billion, including the $1,022 billion federal investment.
Depending on how much state and local governments spend on infrastructure in response to federal aid, we estimate that the plan changes GDP between -0.1 and 0.1 percent by 2032 relative to no policy change. By 2042, the plan changes GDP between -0.3 and -0.2 percent.
PWBM previously analyzed the effects of the tax bill passed this December. Most of that bill’s tax cuts for individuals (non-businesses) expire at year-end 2025. This brief reports the budgetary and economic effects of indefinitely extending the individual-side tax cuts.
By 2027, we project that debt increases between $573 billion and $736 billion. However, GDP is relatively unchanged, although slightly contracts, because this standard 10-year budget window covers only two years of tax cut extensions.
By 2040, we project that GDP contracts by 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent relative to current law, where the tax cuts for individuals are set to expire. Debt increases between $5.2 trillion and $6.1 trillion.
Public support for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been increasing over time, and several experiments are already underway.
The Roosevelt Institute recently published an analysis of a UBI proposal that would pay $6,000 per year to every adult in the United States. Roosevelt estimates that GDP would increase by up to 6.8 percent within eight years after the policy’s onset, if the policy were deficit financed.
We estimate the impact of the same plan on the federal budget and economy using a richer dynamic model. If deficit financed, we project that same UBI plan would increase federal debt by over 63.5 percent by 2027 and by 81.1 percent by 2032. GDP falls by 6.1 percent by 2027 and by 9.3 percent by 2032. The smaller tax base also sharply reduces Social Security revenue, by 7.1 percent by 2027 and by 10.4 percent by 2032.
Tax benefits for higher education make up 17 percent of federal aid for postsecondary students.
Families find it difficult to take advantage of tax benefits for higher education. About 14 percent of families do not take benefits for which they qualify. Evidence that tax benefits for higher education induce more students to go to school is weak.
The authors explore the potential impact of different simplification strategies, providing a roadmap for future empirical work.
Reforms to certain tax expenditures considered in this paper can increase tax revenue by as much as $366.3 billion in 2016, equal to almost half of the budget deficit. Smaller reforms produce less revenue.
The method of limiting certain tax expenditures, however, can have substantially different impacts on the distribution of taxes paid by income.
The government loses almost 14.5 percent of revenue due to noncompliance, enough money to substantially narrow or even eliminate the federal deficit.
Third-party reporting of income is effective at improving reporting of income. However, increased reporting of income from third parties does not necessarily lead to increased tax revenue. In addition, most studies indicate that an appeal to moral duty is not effective at improving reporting of income to tax authorities.
Instead, increasing the chances of audit is effective at reducing tax evasion.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Social Security Policy Simulator allows users to see the results of six policy options and combinations of those options, for a total of 4,096 policy combinations. Most policies can be simulated on a standard static basis or on a dynamic basis that includes macroeconomic feedback effects.
Relative to estimates by the Social Security Administration, the Penn Wharton Budget Model shows a faster and larger deterioration of the program’s finances. Our results are a bit closer to the Congressional Budget Office’s projections.
Many standard policy options for achieving solvency barely move the date that the Social Security Trust Fund runs out of money, but they might contribute significantly to the long-run shortfall. Either combinations of several policy changes or larger changes are required for securing Social Security.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Immigration Policy Simulator allows users to see the results of three policy options and combinations of those options, for a total of 125 policy combinations. Policies can be simulated on a standard static basis or on a dynamic basis that includes macroeconomic feedback effects.
Shifting the mix of legal immigrants toward college graduates has little impact on employment and only slightly increases GDP. Legalization of undocumented workers slightly reduces employment and has a negligible impact on GDP. Deportations, however, substantially reduce both employment and GDP.
The largest positive impact on employment and GDP comes from increasing the net flow of immigrants.
Growth in physical capital per worker has contributed the most to U.S. productivity growth.
U.S. capital accumulation is increasingly dependent on foreign capital inflows.
If future technology improvement occurs at its average historical rate, maintaining U.S. productivity growth will require more rapid capital accumulation, especially because worker efficiency appears likely to stagnate or decline.
Workers’ performance on the job is related to all of their demographic and economic attributes, including education, age, family structure, gender, race, labor force status (full- or part-time work), peer group (birth-year), and others.
The annual market-wide “effective labor input” depends upon the quantity (number of work hours contributed) and the efficiency (related to worker attributes) of individuals engaged in market production.
Labor efficiency is projected to decline in the future and offset growth in labor quantity to slow growth of aggregate “effective labor input.” Official government analysts typically do not project changes in labor efficiency, thereby imparting a more optimistic outlook to budget projections.
The large premium that college degree holders earn relative to workers with only a high school diploma suggests that a better-educated workforce would increase U.S. output.
Barriers to borrowing against future income, though, may make it difficult to acquire a college education, implying a potential role for using policy to increase access to college, especially if it is appropriately targeted.
However, college education is costly, and the payoff is uncertain and realized only after a lengthy absence from the workforce. Optimal policy, therefore, aims to balance these costs against the potential benefits, requiring the explicit modeling of education attainment when making budget projections.
Improving citizens’ well-being requires increasing productivity over time – the efficiency of converting resources such as labor, land, and physical plant and equipment into useful goods and services.
U.S. productivity has slowed dramatically during the last decade, largely due to slower innovation and reduced growth of capital per worker.
The productivity slowdown will make funding government programs more challenging. Public policies that encourage additional capital accumulation and reward innovation could reverse at least some of the recent productivity declines.
The United States experienced an unprecedented decline in mortality during the twentieth century, thanks to improvements in public health, medical advances, and behavioral changes.
But mortality and life expectancy improvements have been uneven across age and socioeconomic status.
Future changes in mortality will affect the federal budget outlook. However, projections of mortality and life expectancy are highly uncertain. This uncertainty creates additional risk for the nation’s transfer programs to the elderly, which already account for half of government outlays.
While some policymakers have blamed immigration for slowing U.S. wage growth since the 1970s, most academic research finds little long run effect on Americans’ wages.
The available evidence suggests that immigration leads to more innovation, a better educated workforce, greater occupational specialization, better matching of skills with jobs, and higher overall economic productivity.
Immigration also has a net positive effect on combined federal, state, and local budgets. But not all taxpayers benefit equally. In regions with large populations of less educated, low-income immigrants, native-born residents bear significant net costs due to immigrants’ use of public services, especially education.
The demographic transition toward an older population is ongoing in America and Europe. The transition began earlier in Europe where fertility rates have declined much more. Will America follow in Europe’s footsteps?
Procreation and family formation appears influenced by the social and economic conditions facing young adults. Younger American women appear to be postponing childbirth. Will this reduce future American TFR to still lower levels?
Government policies influence the economic environment and affect fertility choices indirectly. Social Security and various retiree health programs have likely reduced fertility, making their own financing more difficult.
The baby bust of the 1960s saw the U.S. total fertility rate (TFR) dip to just below the 2.1 live births per woman needed to prevent population decline.
U.S. TFR fell again after the Great Recession of 2008-09, which eroded women’s and couples’ economic ability to bear and raise children.
Large and persistent declines in European fertility to well below the 2.1 threshold is a worrisome precursor: America’s budget problem of funding elder-care would worsen if the U.S. TFR meets with the same fate as that of Europe.