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Measuring the Effects of Corporate Tax Cuts


  • Alan J. Auerbach


On December 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the most sweeping revision of US tax law since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The law introduced many significant changes. However, perhaps none was as important as the changes in the treatment of traditional "C" corporations—those corporations subject to a separate corporate income tax. Beginning in 2018, the federal corporate tax rate fell from 35 percent to 21 percent, some investment qualified for immediate deduction as an expense, and multinational corporations faced a substantially modified treatment of their activities. This paper seeks to evaluate the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to understand its effects on resource allocation and distribution. It compares US corporate tax rates to other countries before the 2017 tax law, and describes ways in which the US corporate sector has evolved that are especially relevant to tax policy. The discussion then turns the main changes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for the corporate income tax. A range of estimates suggests that the law is likely to contribute to increased US capital investment and, through that, an increase in US wages. The magnitude of these increases is extremely difficult to predict. Indeed, the public debate about the benefits of the new corporate tax provisions enacted (and the alternatives not adopted) has highlighted the limitations of standard approaches in distributional analysis to assigning corporate tax burdens.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan J. Auerbach, 2018. "Measuring the Effects of Corporate Tax Cuts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 97-120, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:32:y:2018:i:4:p:97-120
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.32.4.97

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    Cited by:

    1. METAXAS Theodore & NIKOU Rania, 2020. "Taxes In The Automotive And Telecommunications Industries Of The Usa: Evolution And Comparison With The European Union," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 20(2), pages 99-116.
    2. Kenneth McKenzie, 2019. "Altering the Tax Mix in Alberta," SPP Research Papers, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, vol. 12(25), September.
    3. Dorine Boumans & Clemens Fuest & Carla Krolage & Klaus Wohlrabe, 2020. "Expected effects of the US tax reform on other countries: global and local survey evidence," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(6), pages 1608-1630, December.
    4. Siraj G. Bawa & Nam T. Vu, 2020. "International effects of corporate tax cuts on income distribution," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(5), pages 1164-1190, November.
    5. Clément Carbonnier & Clément Malgouyres & Loriane Py & Camille Urvoy, 2019. "Wage Incidence of a Large Corporate Tax Credit: Contrasting Employee - and Firm - Level Evidence," Sciences Po publications 85, Sciences Po.
    6. Bing Xu & Lili Li & Yan Liang & Mohib Ur Rahman, 2019. "Measuring Risk Allocation of Tax Burden for Small and Micro Enterprises," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(3), pages 1-20, January.
    7. Metaxas, Theodore & Nikou, Rania, 2020. "Tax competition in EU and USA: A comparative analysis of the automotive and telecommunication industries," MPRA Paper 102214, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law


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