In this paper, part of the Carbon Tax Research Initiative led by Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy, we estimate how a carbon tax would affect the distribution of tax burdens across US taxpayers. We consider three carbon tax scenarios that would price carbon at roughly $14, $50, and $73 (in 2016 dollars) per metric ton starting in 2020 and increasing thereafter between 1 and 3 percent per year. We also consider three options to return the carbon tax revenue back to households—leaving the overall tax burden constant—including reducing payroll taxes, reducing the corporate income tax, and providing per capita household rebates. Our results are consistent with previous findings that adopting a carbon tax can be progressive, regressive, or neither, depending on how the revenue is used.
This article was originally published by Columbia University’s SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) on July 17, 2018.