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Clear nonpartisan analysis of fiscal and tax policy enables policymakers and the public to weigh competing theories on how to end the country’s economic crisis. Urban Institute researchers evaluated key components of the stimulus package and analyzed the tax proposals in the president’s budget. Warning decisionmakers about the unsustainable fiscal course ahead, our experts propose ways to control deficits and reform the entitlement programs that drive up spending. Read more.

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Who Benefits from Asset-Building Tax Subsidies? (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
C. Eugene Steuerle, Benjamin H. Harris, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caleb Quakenbush, Caroline Ratcliffe

Tax subsidies for asset building totaled $384 billion in 2013, with the vast majority going toward subsidizing homeownership and retirement saving. This factsheet summarizes distributional estimates of major tax subsidies for homeownership, retirement saving, and higher education. Low- and moderate-income households benefit very little from these subsidies. For example, about 70 percent of the mortgage interest deduction and employer-sponsored retirement plan subsidies go to the top 20 percent of tax payers while the bottom 20 percent receive less than one percent. Upper-income households, which likely require less incentive to save, may merely shift assets from unsubsidized to subsidized accounts.

Posted to Web: September 24, 2014Publication Date: September 24, 2014

Summary of and Comments on Exempt Organization Provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 (Presentation)
Roger Colinvaux

The slides summarize the content of and provide detailed commentary on the exempt organization provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 2014, a discussion draft released February 26, 2014 by Dave Camp, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, including changes to the charitable deduction, unrelated business income tax, penalty and excise tax regimes, and administrative provisions. The slides find that several themes emerge: the charitable deduction is supported by a base-defining theory, unrelated businesses should be discouraged, compliance by exempt organizations is problematic, the law is too complex, and the tax exemption for investment income is too broad.

Posted to Web: September 24, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

Data Appendix to Kids' Share 2014: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2013 (Data)
Ellen Steele, Julia Isaacs, Heather Hahn, Sara Edelstein, C. Eugene Steuerle

This appendix to Kids' Share 2014: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2013 details the methodology used in our annual comprehensive analysis of trends in federal spending and tax expenditures on children. It describes our selection of programs to include in our analysis, our data sources, and the methodology used to estimate the percentage of program expenditures that went to children.

Posted to Web: September 24, 2014Publication Date: September 24, 2014

Kids' Share 2014: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2013 (Research Report)
Heather Hahn, Julia Isaacs, Sara Edelstein, Ellen Steele, C. Eugene Steuerle

Kids’ Share 2014: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2013, an eighth annual report, looks comprehensively at federal spending and tax expenditures on children. Total federal expenditures on children were up from 2012, but below spending in 2010. Broader budgetary forces will continue to restrict spending on children over the next ten years, despite an overall projected growth of over $1.4 trillion in federal spending. Over the next decade, outlays on children are projected to decline from 10 to 8 percent of the federal budget.

Posted to Web: September 18, 2014Publication Date: September 18, 2014

Examples of Promising Practices for Integrating and Coordinating Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention: Human Services and Health Programs Under the Affordable Care Act (Research Report)
Stan Dorn, Sarah Minton, Erika Huber

States and non-profit organizations have used three approaches to successfully integrate enrollment and retention of health and human services programs: 1. Streamlining one program's eligibility determination based on data from other programs. This approach has helped uninsured children receive and retain health coverage, helped low-income seniors obtain SNAP, and produced state administrative savings. 2. Coordinated administration of multiple programs. Administrative savings resulted when multiple programs integrated their systems for case records, data matching, eligibility rules engines, on-line applications, and benefit payment. 3. Coordinating enrollment. Community colleges exemplify sites for enrolling consumers into multiple health and human services at once.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

Preliminary Estimates of the Impact of the Camp Tax Reform Plan on Charitable Giving (Research Report)
Joseph Rosenberg, C. Eugene Steuerle, Ellen Steele, Amanda Eng

This note estimates the effects of four groups of provisions from the Tax Reform Act of 2014 on individual charitable giving. The provisions of the tax reform plan, released earlier this year by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), are estimated to decrease individual giving by 7 to 14 percent.

Posted to Web: September 10, 2014Publication Date: September 10, 2014

Assessing Pension Benefits Paid under Pennsylvania's State Employees' Retirement System (Research Report)
Richard W. Johnson, Barbara Butrica, Owen Haaga, Benjamin G. Southgate

Pennsylvania’s pension plan for state employees receives a failing grade in the Urban Institute’s state and local pension plan report card, and ranks as the third-worst plan in the nation covering newly hired general state employees. The plan scores poorly because it is inadequately funded, it penalizes work at older ages by reducing lifetime benefits for older employees, and it provides few retirement benefits to short-term employees. Age-25 hires must work 32 years before they accumulate rights to future pension benefits worth more than their required plan contributions. Various pension reforms could distribute benefits more equitably across the workforce.

Posted to Web: September 04, 2014Publication Date: September 04, 2014

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