An Option to Reform the Income Tax Treatment of Families and Work

Research Report

An Option to Reform the Income Tax Treatment of Families and Work

Abstract

The income tax provisions related to families and work—filing status, rate schedules, the standard deduction, personal exemptions, the child and earned income tax credits, and the taxation of dependents—are complex, too small to encourage work for many low earners, and unfair to some families. We describe and analyze a comprehensive option that addresses these issues while minimizing the number of “losers” and reducing average tax burdens in all but the highest income quintile, at a cost of about $100 billion per year. We present alternatives to illustrate different policy tradeoffs that could be made in reforming these provisions.

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