Income Tax Preferences for the Elderly
This research investigates the evolution of federal and state income tax preferences for the elderly during the past twenty-five years. Documenting how various types of income tax preferences have changed reveals that state tax policies are not simply mimicking federal tax law. It also shows a divergence in how the different types of state preferences have evolved. The authors explore two explanations for these patterns: the political power of the elderly and state tax competition. They construct a summary measure using representative household profiles created from the Current Population Survey and the TAXSIM calculator for 1977 to 2002. Several patterns emerge that are consistent with both explanations, but data limitations make it difficult to obtain definitive results. The most salient finding is that a proportionately large elderly population is associated with less generous tax preferences for the elderly, which is consistent with a ``program cost'' rather than ``preference'' effect of an aging population.
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