Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another newly posted paper of mine

"Welfare, Cash Grants, and Marginal Rates." available here. The abstract is as follows:

"Marginal rates are frequently analyzed based solely on taxes, without regard to benefit phase-outs that have exactly the same incentive and distributional effects as increasing positive taxes. This myopia reflects the notion, rooted in our current fiscal language, that “taxes” and “spending” are fundamentally different. In fact, however, the difference is purely one of labeling.

"Among the ill consequences of this confusion between substance and labels is the political unfeasibility of demogrant or negative income tax proposals. These proposals often are criticized for seemingly providing universal and unconditional cash grants. In fact, however, cash grants can be just as conditional or selective as benefits that are labeled as “welfare.” Clearer thinking about these matters would expand the realm of politically feasible policy choices, and make excessively high marginal tax rates on people who are escaping poverty easier to avoid."

This one is admittedly a bit of a rehash of past work. I have written about these issues before, but reworked and extended previous writings, while also explicitly linking it to related themes, to serve as chapter 9 of my forthcoming book with the Cambridge U Press, entitled "Taxes, Spending, and the U.S. Government's March Toward Bankruptcy." I then decided (with the Press's kind approval) to break out a revised and shortened version of the chapter to appear in a forthcoming SMU Law Review tax symposium. That, in turn, is the newly posted paper.

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