The Taxation of the Poor
This paper uses microsimulation modeling to estimate the annual burden of federal, state, and local taxes on the poor in two states. We find that in 1988 the average burden of taxation on poor families and individuals was 15.3 percent in Massachusetts and 18 percent in New York. As most of the burden is due to state and local taxes, federal tax reform had only a minor impact on the overall tax burdens faced by the poor. Though the analysis is for two state, we argue that the basic results are applicable for most other states. Given the high incidence of persistent poverty among those who are poor in any given year, we argue that annual burdens provide a good indication of long-run burden for a significant proportion of the poor.
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