Winners and Losers After Paying for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Research Report

Winners and Losers After Paying for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Abstract

Tax cuts often look like “free lunches” for taxpayers, but they eventually have to be paid for with other tax increases or spending cuts. We examine the distributional effects – with and without financing – of both the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. When ignoring financing, the bills would be regressive; most households would be better off, but the highest income households would generally receive the largest percentage boosts in after-tax income. Including financing – based on either equal costs per household or an equal proportion of each household’s income – would make the overall plan far more regressive and would leave the vast majority of households worse off than they would be if the tax cuts were not implemented in the first place. If financing were proportional to households’ current income tax liability, the results would be more mixed. These results show how important the method of financing is to understanding the ultimate distributional effects of tax proposals.

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