Note: The adhering to is the testimony that Scott A. Hodge, chairman of the tax Foundation, ready for a Senate budget Committee listening on march 26, 2021, titled, “Ending a Rigged taxation Code: The need to Make the Wealthiest People and also Largest companies Pay their Fair share of Taxes.”

Chairman Sanders, Ranking Member Graham, and also members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify prior to you today.

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There is no objective typical for what defines “fair share”; it is a purely subjective concept. Yet there room facts, which space objective, and also the facts imply that the U.S. Tax and fiscal system is really progressive and really redistributive. This facts room contrary to famous opinion and contrary to the premise the this hearing.

Internal Revenue company (IRS) data shows that the rich in America space bearing the heaviest share of the earnings tax burden 보다 in any time in recent memory. On the other hand, an ext than 53 million low- and also middle-income taxpayers pay no earnings taxes after ~ benefiting native record amounts of taxation credits, and also six out of 10 family members receive an ext in straight government benefits 보다 they pay in all federal taxes.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Taxes system is just one of the most “business dependent” systems almost everywhere as American businesses salary or assigned work 93 percent the the country taxes. Economic studies display that employees bear in ~ least fifty percent of the financial burden of corporate counting through reduced wages, through women, the low-skilled, and also younger workers impacted the most. And also because the corporate earnings tax is the many harmful taxes for economic growth, increasing the corporate tax price would not just slow the economy, it would also make the U.S. One outlier once again against our global trading partners.

Let’s dive into the facts.

Table of Contents

The affluent Bear America’s taxes Burden

Most Americans would certainly be surprised to find out that a 2008 examine by financial experts at the organization for economic Co-operation and development (OECD) found that the U.S. Had actually the most steady income tax mechanism of any industrialized country at the time.<1> your study proved that the peak 10 percent that U.S. Taxpayers paid a bigger share that the taxes burden than their counterparts in various other countries and also our poorest taxpayers had the lowest revenue tax burden contrasted to bad taxpayers in other nations due come refundable taxes credits such together the Earned revenue Tax Credit and also the child Tax Credit.

Our income tax code has actually only gotten more progressive since then since of Washington’s proceeding effort to help working course taxpayers with the taxes code.

According come the latest IRS data for 2018—the year following enactment the the taxes Cuts and also Jobs act (TCJA)—the peak 1 percent the taxpayers payment $616 exchange rate in income taxes. As we can see in number 1, that quantities to 40 percent the all income taxes paid, the highest share since 1980, and a bigger share that the taxes burden than is borne by the bottom 90 percent the taxpayers linked (who represent about 130 million taxpayers).<2>


In instance you are thinking, “Well, the rich make more, they must pay more,” the height 1 percent the taxpayers account because that 20 percent the all income (AGI). So, your 40 percent re-publishing of income taxes is double their re-superstructure of the country income.

Similarly, in 2018, the optimal 0.1 percent of taxpayers paid $311 billion in revenue taxes. The amounted come 20 percent the all earnings taxes paid, the highest level because 2001, together far earlier as the IRS data enables us come measure. The top 0.1 percent the taxpayers in 2018 paid a greater share that the revenue tax burden 보다 the bottom 75 percent the taxpayers combined.

Millions benefit from taxes Credits and Pay Zero revenue Taxes

It is tough to say that the tax code is rigged in donate of the well-off when more than 53 million taxpayers, an ext than one-third of every taxpayers, have no income tax liability because of the many credits and also deductions that have actually been created or broadened in current decades.

As figure 2 illustrates, the percentage of this filers through no liability began to thrive following the taxation Reform plot of 1986 expansion of the zero tax bracket. Due to the fact that the production of the kid Tax credit in 1997 the percentage of income tax filers who have no taxation liability raised from 23.6 percent to 34.7 percent in 2018.


The percent of filers with no legal responsibility spiked in ~ 42 percent in 2009 with development of the Making work-related Pay tax credit. As the economic situation recovered native the an excellent Recession, the percentage of filers v no liability decreased to 32 percent in 2017. The portion has started to spike again after the TCJA double the child Tax credit to $2,000 from $1,000. This enhanced the number of non-payers by an ext than 4 million, from 49.1 million come 53.3 million.

Many of this low-income taxpayers receive refundable taxes credits, which means that they obtain a check back from the IRS even if they have actually no income tax liability.

The mix of deductions and also refundable taxation credits way many lower-income families face an unfavorable income taxes rates. Follow to Congressional budget plan Office (CBO) data for 2017, the lowest quintile faced a an adverse 10.9 percent revenue tax rate, and also the second quintile faced a an unfavorable 1.0 percent income tax rate. We perform not have actually CBO data because that 2018, but we understand that the taxes Cuts and Jobs Act diminished income taxes throughout all quintiles ~ above average, so the negative rates for the bottom 2 quintiles should loss further and the center quintile can dip into an adverse as well.

Of course, households face more than simply the individual income tax, and many families in the bottom that the income distribution pay more in payroll taxes 보다 in individual income taxes. Follow to the CBO, households throughout the income spectrum additionally bear the burden of corporate income taxes and excise taxes. The net effect is that family members in the bottom quintile challenge just a 1.3 percent typical federal taxes rate, compared to 31.6 percent for the height 1 percent.

Our Fiscal system Redistributes $1.7 trillion from the rich to anyone Else

A current study through the Congressional budget plan Office, The distribution of household Income, 2017,<3> provides an insight into the taxation code’s progressivity and the redistributive results of federal fiscal policy—both taxes and direct federal benefits. The report provides estimates of how much families in assorted income groups benefited in 2017 from society insurance programs (such as Social Security and Medicare) and means-tested transport programs (such together Medicaid, SNAP, and Supplemental security Income), and also contrasts these services with approximates of how much these households paid in full federal taxes.

One method to understand just how much households receive in direct federal benefits contrasted to how much they pay in full federal count is to produce a ratio. In other words, we can calculate how much in direct federal benefits execute they get for every $1 in complete federal count paid.

As we have the right to see in Table 1, in 2017, family members in the shortest quintile got $67.67 in straight federal services for every $1 they payment in commonwealth taxes.<4> households in the 2nd quintile got $4.60 in benefits for every $1 the taxes lock paid, while family members in the middle quintile obtained $1.60 in full direct benefits for every $1 that taxes castle paid.

By contrast, families in the fourth quintile received $0.71 in direct federal benefits for every $1 they payment in counting while family members in the highest possible quintile received just $0.15 in direct federal benefits for every $1 they payment in federal taxes. For families in the peak 1 percent, your return top top every $1 of federal taxes payment was just $0.02. This figures demonstrate how progressive tax and security policies have actually become.

Table 1. Ratio of direct Benefits obtained to full Federal counting Paid2017 income GroupRatio: straight Benefits received to count Paid
Lowest Quintile$67.67
Second Quintile$4.60
Middle Quintile$1.60
Fourth Quintile$0.71
Highest Quintile$0.15
81st come 90th Decile$0.36
91st to 95th Decile$0.22
96th come 99th Decile$0.12
Top 1%$0.02

Source: Congressional budget plan Office, The circulation of family members Income, 2017, Oct. 2, 2020,

The Numbers add Up to a the majority of Redistribution

Another method to look in ~ the data is in the aggregate, which allows us come measure exactly how much assorted income groups receive in straight government benefits family member to how much they pay in total federal taxes. This will provide us a feeling of just how much federal fiscal plan acts come redistribute income from some groups of American family members to other groups.

Figure 3 reflects that families in the bottom three quintiles collectively receive much more than $1 trillion much more in direct government benefits than they paid in all federal taxes in 2017. In other words, 60 percent that American households receive an ext in benefits 보다 they pay in commonwealth taxes.

By contrast, we have the right to see that family members in the top 20 percent of households pay $1.7 trillion more in taxes than they receive in direct benefits, of i m sorry $728 billion come from families in the peak 1 percent.

The CBO data shows that redistribution diminished the income of families in the height 1 percent by an ext than one-third, when lifting the incomes of families in the shortest quintile by 126 percent, those in the 2nd quintile by 46 percent, and also those in the middle quintile by 10 percent. Those are the results that you would mean from a highly gradual fiscal system.


The risk of counting Wealth—Enriching international Billionaires

Some argue the one means of addressing inequality is taxing riches on an annual basis. Tax structure economists modeled the impact of the wealth taxes suggest by Senators Warren and also Sanders throughout the 2020 presidential campaign. These outcomes will surprise many.

Our Taxes and Growth (TAG 2.0) general Equilibrium tax Model identified that these riches taxes would have a fairly modest impact on GDP, wages, and jobs however would have actually a big impact on who owns U.S. Assets. Why is that? It transforms out that the model determined that the wealth tax would pressure the rich to offer their legacy to salary the tax, often at discount prices. Because the U.S. Is an open up economy and capital industries are global, the model shown that foreign investors would acquisition those assets, which is why GDP walk not autumn by much. Yet what this does mean is the the wealth tax would result in the transfer of property of those assets from rich Americans to affluent foreigners.<5>

Thus, the unintended impact of a wealth taxes is that it would move wealth from U.S. Millionaires and also billionaires to international billionaires and also mean the American workers might increasingly be employed by international employers. Currently owned by foreigners, this assets would certainly be the end of reach of the wide range tax.<6>

When You taxes Corporations You obtain Less of Them

Now let’s look in ~ the corporate side of the tax code.

If the taxes code were rigged in favor of corporations, we would have much more of them. Now there are about 1.6 million corporations, the fewest number because 1974. C corps reached their zenit in 1986 and also have to be on the decline ever since. The U.S. Now has 1 million under corporations now than the did more than three decades ago.

Perhaps one factor for this decline is the fact that the U.S. Levied among the highest possible corporate rates in the developed world for virtually a quarter-century, indigenous 1993, when the price was boosted to 35 percent, until it was lowered to 21 percent in 2017. Throughout the entire duration of having actually a globally high corporate tax rate, corporate taxes collections averaged just 10 percent of commonwealth revenues, or around 1.8 percent the GDP. Probably this proves the economic truism that once you tax an ext of something, you gain less of it.

Instead, you Get an ext Pass Throughs and Perceptions of climbing Inequality

As the number of traditional C corporations has declined, the number of pass-through businesses has skyrocketed. Together we have the right to see in figure 4, due to the fact that 1986, the number of S corporations prospered by more than fivefold, from about 826,000 to end 4.2 million. The variety of partnerships did lag for a couple of years complying with 1986, however once the LLC kind took off, the number climbed to approximately 3.4 million. Figure 4 walk not include sole proprietorships, which prospered from 12.4 million in 1986 to over 23 million today.<7>


The shift in business forms because 1986 has actually meant that much more business earnings is currently reported on separation, personal, instance 1040 tax forms than on classic 1120 this firm forms. The to explode of pass-through business income is most notably seen on the tax returns the high-income taxpayers, i beg your pardon is contributing come the appearance of climbing inequality.

In number 5 below, we deserve to see the an altering composition of income for the top 1 percent the taxpayers native 1950 to 2017. The data is drawn from the website of university of Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez. Emphasis on the heat tracking the ingredient of what Saez phone call “entrepreneurial income,” or pass-through income, due to the fact that this line greatly traces what he and also Gabriel Zucman have identified as the tendency in inequality since 1950. 


Saez and Zucman have suggested that we need to return come the high separation, personal, instance tax rates that to be levied native 1950 through 1980 since they had actually the effect of reducing inequality. Inequality began to increase again, lock argue, as height marginal taxes rates began to loss following the 1981 tax cuts. But, as we can see, the high marginal taxes rates prior to 1980 mainly drove entrepreneurial business income off the individual revenue tax develops of the peak 1 percent that taxpayers onto corporate returns. That company net earnings rose transparent this period as the wealthy’s “entrepreneurial income” declined. The pattern argues that the wealthy’s “entrepreneurial income” to be being reported on classic corporate taxation forms, no individual tax forms.

There were definitely rich people during those early decades as there room today, yet many high earners just sheltered their revenue in traditional C corporations, which confronted considerably lower tax prices relative to an individual income taxation rates. This provided the appearance the there to be fewer rich people than there in reality were. This phenomenon reversed itself throughout the 1980s when the optimal individual income tax price fell listed below the this firm rate and the constraints on the structure and also participation in partnerships and S corporations eased.

We deserve to see on figure 5 the the amount and share that pass-through organization income on the tax returns that the peak 1 percent of taxpayers has soared because the 1980s. Income that historically would have actually been reported on a corporate 1120 tax form is currently being reported on individual 1040 taxes forms, contributing to the appearance of rising inequality. 

U.S. Tax mechanism Is many “Business Dependent”

Setting aside the controversy over whether a low taxes bill is fair, what is to let go in together discussions is the American enterprise are crucial to the taxes collection system at every level that government—federal, state, and local. In 2017, OECD economist Anna Milanez measure up the lot of taxes that businesses in 24 countries contributed to the all at once tax collection system. Her report identified that the U.S. Was among the most “business dependent” tax equipment in the developed world.<8>

The report uncovered that U.S. Businesses either pay or remit more than 93 percent of all the taxes gathered by federal governments in the U.S.<9> As figure 6 shows, this has taxes paid directly by businesses, such together corporate revenue taxes, home taxes, and also excises taxes, as well as the taxes businesses assigned work on behalf of employees and customers, such together payroll taxes, withholding taxes, and also sales taxes.


Without businesses together their taxpayers and tax collectors, or significantly changing the taxation system, American federal governments would not have the sources to provide even the most simple services. Considering the duty of companies in collecting the taxes needed to support the attributes of our government, one would be hard-pressed to say the the system is rigged in your favor.

The Corporate taxes Is the many Harmful for economic Growth

A seminal research by financial experts at the OECD ranked the major taxes in terms of their damage to economic growth.<10> Corporate income taxes were found to be the many harmful because that growth, followed, in order, by personal income taxes, intake taxes, and also property taxes.

The factor corporate income taxes were figured out to be most harmful for development is since capital is the many mobile factor in the economy and, thus, the most sensitive come high taxes rates. People and the points we very own are much less mobile and, thus, much less sensitive come high taxes rates. This is not to say the these factors are insensitive come taxation, simply less so than taxes top top capital.

Tax foundation economists provided our Taxes and also Growth (TAG 2.0) general Equilibrium Tax model to measure up the economic impact of raising the this firm tax rate to 28 percent.<11> The model figured out that such a rate rise would alleviate long-run GDP by 0.8 percent, eliminate 159,000 jobs, and reduce wages by 0.7 percent.

Table 2. Financial Effect of raising the commonwealth Corporate income Tax price to 25 Percent or 28 Percent Raise Corporate revenue Tax rate to 25 PercentRaise Corporate income Tax rate to 28 Percent
Capital Stock-1.1%-2.1%
Wage Rate-0.4%-0.7%
Full-Time equivalent Jobs-84,200-159,000

Source: Tax foundation General Equilibrium Model, January 2021.

The model also determined that even a much less dramatic boost in the corporate price to 25 percent would still dampen economic growth. It found that a 25 percent price would reduce GDP by 0.4 percent, reduced the resources stock through 1.1 percent, and also eliminate over 84,000 jobs.

Workers (Often Women and Low-Skilled) be affected by each other the load of corporate Taxes

A farming body of academic research is indicating that in our worldwide economy, where funding is mobile, however workers room not, workers space bearing a greater and also greater re-publishing of the financial burden of corporate taxes.<12> One current study found that workers bear 51 percent the the financial burden that corporate earnings taxes through diminished wages, particularly for “the low-skilled, women, and young workers.”<13>

The sign Model’s evaluation of increasing the that company tax rate to 28 percent reflects that its impact is not isolated come high-income taxpayers, who often tend to be the owner of capital. Together Table 3 indicates, ~ above a traditional basis, raising the that company tax price to 28 percent would alleviate the after-tax income of the height 1 percent the earners through 1.5 percent in 2022, far greater than any type of other group. However, because workers be affected by each other some section of the this firm tax, low-income workers would check out their after-tax incomes loss by 0.5 percent, while middle-income workers would view their incomes loss by 0.4 percent.

Those results are in the quick run. In the lengthy run, ~ the model factors in all of the financial effects the the tax increase, the finds that high-income taxpayers would still see the largest reduction in after-tax incomes at 3.2 percent. However, us can additionally see that over the long run, the bottom 20 percent of earners would watch your incomes fall by 1.5 percent, 3 times larger than the conventional estimate. Similarly, middle-income earners would watch their incomes autumn by 1.4 percent end time.

Table 3. Distributional effect of raising the commonwealth Corporate revenue Tax price to 28 PercentIncome QuintileConventional, 2022Conventional, 2031Dynamic, Long-Run
0% to 20%-0.5%-0.6%-1.5%
20% come 40%-0.4%-0.5%-1.3%
40% to 60%-0.4%-0.5%-1.4%
60% to 80%-0.5%-0.5%-1.4%
80% to 100%-0.9%-1.0%-2.1%
80% come 90%-0.5%-0.6%-1.4%
90% to 95%-0.6%-0.7%-1.6%
95% to 99%-0.8%-0.9%-1.9%
99% come 100%-1.5%-1.8%-3.2%

Source: Tax foundation General Equilibrium Model, January 2021.

Competitiveness Matters

Since the corporate revenue tax is the most harmful taxes for economic growth, that is critically crucial that the commonwealth corporate tax rate not it is in increased above its present 21 percent level. When some have criticized the drop native 35 percent together too huge of a reduction, the rate cut lowered the U.S. Standing from the highest amongst the 37 OECD nations, to 12th highest possible when we encompass the mean of state corporate taxes rates. This is hardly a “race to the bottom” together some have actually suggested.

The an unified federal-state corporate tax rate at this time stands at 25.8 percent, contrasted to a straightforward average of OECD nations (excluding the U.S.) of 23.4 percent, and a weighted mean of 26.5 percent. In various other words, the merged U.S. Corporate tax rate is proper average amongst our global trading partners. Again, hardly a gyeongju to the bottom.

However, if the federal rate were come be increased to 28 percent, the an unified U.S. Rate would jump to 32.3 percent, once again highest among OECD nations. Countries such as France and also Sweden, which space in the procedure of cutting their corporate taxation rates, would certainly love because that the U.S. To raise the corporate tax rate since it would certainly instantly do them much more attractive for investment and jobs. Together concerning, China’s rate is 25 percent, so we additionally risk shedding competitiveness through our fiercest economic competitor by elevating our corporate taxes rate.

While the tax Cuts and also Jobs Act eliminated our outlier status about our corporate taxation rate, it offered us a new outlier status with the development of a facility set of brand-new international taxation rules. This is specifically true of the minimum taxes levied on worldwide Intangible Low-Tax earnings (GILTI), i m sorry stands out together unique amongst other nation’s tax systems.

To be fair, GILTI has actually seemingly got rid of much the the “nowhere income” that created libraries of academic studies around corporate taxes avoidance. Another new international rule, the foreign Intangible domestic Income (FDII), has additionally incentivized many companies to bring their pundit property earlier to the U.S. And also we should acknowledge that the brand-new exemption regime, or “territorial” system, has got rid of corporate inversions as U.S. Firms can repatriate their international earnings without paying an additional toll charge.

While GILTI has eliminated the nowhere international income the U.S. Multinationals, one arcane supplication in GILTI is gift criticized because that somehow incentivizing providers to invest abroad fairly than in the U.S. The GILTI taxation base excludes profits that amount come a 10 percent return on tangible international assets. This is dubbed the “QBAI” deduction, because that Qualified organization Asset Investment.

The original purpose the QBAI to be to it is in a proxy because that determining super-normal return from international investments but has end up being a mirage in the taxes code because that those who believe it leader to outsourcing. On closer inspection, there is no evidence of this. ~ above the contrary, studies present that the brand-new international taxes rules go not reduce the reliable tax rate on foreign income because that U.S. Multinationals.<14> Indeed, as soon as the joint Committee on taxes scored the worldwide provisions the the TCJA, they found them to be a net tax boost of $112 billion over 10 years. This shows that the base on international revenue is much more comprehensive than prior to the TCJA.


Digging through the data, it is complicated to find evidence the the U.S. Tax code is rigged in donate of the rich and corporations. The wealthy’s re-publishing of the income tax burden has never been higher, redistribution indigenous them has actually never to be greater, and more than 53 million low- and middle-income american pay no revenue taxes since of the generous credits and deductions services them.

Moreover, the 21 percent U.S. This firm tax rate is currently average amongst our peers, yet the number of corporations is at a 50-year low after years of levying one of the highest corporate tax rates in the emerged world. Raising the corporate price to 28 percent would most likely accelerate this trend and also spur more companies come either come to be pass throughs or move their headquarters come friendlier tax climates.

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We ought to be worried around the affect of corporate counting on women, low-skilled workers, and younger workers, due to the fact that they space the really workers who have been most influenced by the COVID-19 crisis. Raising the corporate tax rate would just hurt them also more.

Addressing earnings inequality by broadening tax credits is palliative; that does nothing come raise actual incomes and long-term living standards of functioning people. A much better way is to focus on irreversible tax plans that promote boosted productivity, much more jobs, higher real wages, and also real economic growth.