Marginal Tax Rates and 21st Century Social Welfare Reform


Marginal Tax Rates and 21st Century Social Welfare Reform

Joint Hearing of the Subcommittee on Human Resources Committee on Ways and Means AndSubcommittee on NutritionCommittee on Agriculture
June 25, 2015


Families receiving social welfare benefits and tax credits can face implicit marginal tax rates on earnings above 60 percent, especially when they participate in multiple programs. Program designs may penalize work and marriage and create complexity for beneficiaries and program managers. In this congressional testimony, Steuerle argues for comprehensive reforms that consider tax and expenditure programs together and orients program designs toward promoting opportunity, mobility, work, and investment in human, real, and financial capital. Policy options include adopting a maximum marginal tax rate across programs, putting more hidden tax rates into the formal tax code, stronger work requirements, and separating work subsidies from child benefits in federal tax credits.

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