Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair
The Urban Institute
Past or current positions include deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax analysis, cofounder and codirector of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, vice president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, president of the National Tax Association, chair of the 1999 Technical Panel advising Social Security on its methods and assumptions, president of the National Economists Club Educational Foundation, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, federal executive fellow at the Brookings Institution, columnist for Tax Notes and the Financial Times, economic coordinator and original organizer of the Treasury's 1984-1986 tax reform effort, and chair of ACTforAlexandria, a community foundation.
Awards include distinguished or outstanding alumnus awards from the University of Dayton and St. Xavier High School in Louisville, KY, as well as the first Bruce Davie-Albert Davis Public Service Award from the National Tax Association in 2005. Subscribe to his regular column at http://blog.governmentwedeserve.org/.
Ph.D., Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1987-1989: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Richard B. Fisher chair and Institute Fellow
Read more in Steuerle's Institute Fellow bio
Tax Subsidies for Asset Development: An Overview and Distributional Analysis (Research Report)
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The federal government channels much of its support for asset building through the tax code. Asset-building tax subsidies, primarily for homeownership and retirement saving, totaled $384 billion in 2013. This report reviews federal tax expenditures for housing, retirement, savings, business development, and higher education. We highlight research on the effectiveness of and justifications for these expenditures, find limited efficacy in their current form, and note possible adjustments. We estimate the distributional effect of major tax expenditures and find that the vast majority of subsidies benefit the top two income quintiles. Last, we review prospective policies such as matched saving accounts and automatic enrollment.
New Perspectives on Homeownership Tax Incentives (Research Report)
|Posted to Web: March 07, 2014||Publication Date: February 20, 2014|
This report presents three tax reforms designed to promote homeownership through a channel other than the deductibility of mortgage interest. These reforms include a first-time homebuyer tax credit, a refundable tax credit for property taxes paid, and an annual flat amount tax credit for homeowners—all paid for by limiting current tax expenditures for housing. Although far from perfect, these reforms would provide a more efficient and equitable allocation of housing subsidies. Our simulations show that relative to existing incentives, each policy would raise home prices and make the tax code more progressive.
Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits over a Lifetime: 2013 Update (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
|Posted to Web: January 06, 2014||Publication Date: January 06, 2014|
These tables update to 2013 previous estimates of the lifetime value of Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes for typical workers in different generations at various earning levels based on new estimates of the Social Security Actuary. The "lifetime value of taxes" is based upon the value of accumulated taxes, as if those taxes were put into an account that earned a 2 percent real rate of return (that is, 2 percent plus inflation). The "lifetime value of benefits" represents the amount needed in an account (also earning a 2 percent real interest rate) to pay for those benefits. All amounts are presented in constant 2013 dollars.
Has Social Security Redistributed to Whites from People of Color? (Research Report)
|Posted to Web: November 12, 2013||Publication Date: November 12, 2013|
This brief considers how Social Security’s many benefit and tax features have redistributed across groups over time. Using Current Population Survey data from 1970 through 1994 and microsimulation projections from the Urban Institute’s DYNASIM3 model, we find that for many decades, Social Security redistributed from blacks, Hispanics, and other people of color, to whites. These transfers will likely to continue in future decades. Our findings suggest that future reforms that place the burden of Social Security reform solely on younger, more diverse generations may have undesired distributional consequences if the aim of the program is to provide greater relative protections to more vulnerable groups.
Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections (Research Report)
|Posted to Web: November 07, 2013||Publication Date: November 06, 2013|
Kids Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections, a seventh annual report, looks comprehensively at federal spending and taxes on children. Federal outlays on children fell by 7 percent between 2011 and 2012, which is the greatest single-year drop since the early 1980s. While most of this decline is explained by the exhaustion of recession-related funds provided by ARRA, broader budgetary forces will continue to restrict spending on children over the next ten years. Over the next decade, outlays on children are projected to decline from 10 percent to 8 percent of the federal budget.
Reforming Social Security Benefits: Testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security (Testimony)
|Posted to Web: September 24, 2013||Publication Date: September 24, 2013|
Reform of the Social Security benefit structure should proceed on the basis of principles and goals related to adequacy, protections in old age, encouragement of work to protect the tax base on which programs like this depend, and equal justice under the law for those equally situated. Many features of current law violate basic principles of public finance without promoting other worthy goals in an effective or well-targeted manner. In his testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, Gene Steuerle lays out how to go beyond the types of options put forward by many proposals under consideration to achieve such reform.
Pay-out Requirements for Foundations (Research Report)
|Posted to Web: May 23, 2013||Publication Date: May 23, 2013|
This paper examines the minimum distribution requirements for foundations. The first section presents a historical review of current law. The second section looks at the technical problems in the distributions requirements which lead to inequities across foundations and inefficiencies in their distribution of funds. The third section presents proposals to eliminate these problems, and the fourth section discusses the role of public policy in requiring minimum distributions and the effects of these requirements on the growth of the foundation sector. The fifth section looks at how these requirements impact the broader charitable sector.
Less Than Equal: Racial Disparities in Wealth Accumulation (Research Report)
|Posted to Web: April 30, 2013||Publication Date: January 01, 1977|
Income inequality understates the size of the economic gap between whites and minorities in the United States. In 2010, whites on average had two times the income of blacks and Hispanics, but six times the wealth. Analyses of wealth accumulation over the life cycle show that the racial wealth gap grows sharply with age. Wealth isn't just money in the bank, it's insurance against tough times, tuition to get a better education and a better job, savings to retire on, and a springboard into the middle class.
Extending the Charitable Deduction Deadline to Tax Day (Research Brief)
|Posted to Web: April 26, 2013||Publication Date: April 26, 2013|
Extending the charitable deduction deadline is a move with precedent: the government has used it to encourage giving following a natural disaster. However, temporary laws have limited effect. Consider instead allowing charitable deductions made by April 15, aka tax day, to be applied to the previous year's tax returns. As in other facets of life, people are prone to making their decisions concerning giving at the last minute. If tax software companies such as TurboTax could show taxpayers how donating an extra $100 or $1,000 would lower their taxable income, this would be a powerful marketing tool for charities.
Lost Generations? Wealth Building among Young Americans (Policy Briefs)
|Posted to Web: March 18, 2013||Publication Date: March 18, 2013|
Despite the Great Recession and slow recovery, the American dream of working hard, saving more, and becoming wealthier than one's parents holds true for many. Unless you're under 40. Stagnant wages, diminishing job opportunities, and lost home values may be painting a vastly different future for Gen X and Gen Y. Today's political discussions often focus on preserving the wealth and benefits of older Americans and the baby boomers. Often lost in this debate is attention to younger generations whose wealth losses, or lack of long-term gains, have been even greater.
|Posted to Web: March 15, 2013||Publication Date: March 15, 2013|
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