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The Fallacy of Social Security as a Regressive Tax


  • George E. Rejda
  • Kyung Lee
  • James R. Schmidt


The Social Security payroll tax is commonly viewed as a regressive tax that falls heavily on low income groups. The primary purpose of this paper is to determine if social insurance taxes, primarily the Social Security payroll tax, are regressive, and whether such regressivity, if any, has increased over time. The major conclusion is that based on certain realistic assumptions and tax burden ratios, the Social Security payroll tax is actually a progressive tax over the vast majority of family incomes and is regressive only over the highest incomes received by a small proportion of upper-income families. The public policy implications of this finding are analyzed in the study.

Suggested Citation

  • George E. Rejda & Kyung Lee & James R. Schmidt, 1993. "The Fallacy of Social Security as a Regressive Tax," Journal of Insurance Issues, Western Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 16(2), pages 75-97.
  • Handle: RePEc:wri:journl:v:16:y:1993:i:2:p:75-97

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