Monday, September 26, 2016

An NYU Law School first?

I am wondering whether my colleague Lily Batchelder's paper, "Families Facing Tax Increases Under Trump's Latest Tax Plan," might actually be mentioned, or at least referred to, during tonight's presidential debate, whether by Hillary Clinton or even by moderator Lester Holt.

From the abstract: "Donald Trump's latest tax plan would cost more than $5 trillion over 10 years. Trump claims his plan would cut taxes for every income group, with the largest tax cuts for working- and middle-class families. But despite its enormous price tag, his plan would actually significantly raisae taxes for millions of low- and middle-income families with children with especially large tax increases for working single parents....  I conservatively estimate that Trump's plan would increase taxes for roughly 7.8 million families with minor children. These families who would pay more taxes represent roughly 20% of households with minor children and more than half of single parents. They include roughly 25 million individuals and 15 million children."

The paper notes 4 reasons for this effect: repeal of personal exemptions, repeal of head of household filing status, replacement of the 10% bracket with a 12% bracket, and relative lack of benefit to low- and middle-income caretakers from Trump's ostensible tax deduction and credit for child care (which is actually a deduction for having children, insofar as it doesn't turn on actual outlays).

Now admittedly, whenever one changes things around in ways that include some tax-increasing provisions as well as tax-reducing ones, there is a likelihood that some will lose. Thus, suppose there were 20 million affected lower-income households, half of which won and half of which lost from a set of changes. Until one knew more about who won and lost, as well as why, one couldn't easily say whether this was better or worse or neutral as a distributional matter, compared to the law it replaced. But I suspect, from the list of reasons for the adverse effects, that there is a downward skew here - i.e., the losers are often particularly worse-off than others.  After all, having (a) more children, (b) a higher percentage of one's income in the lowest bracket, and (c) only one parent in the household often would correlate with being especially economically vulnerable.

UPDATE: Sure enough, the research in Lily's paper came up at the debate.

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