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The Distribution of Payroll and Income Tax Burdens, 1979-1999

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  • Andrew Mitrusi
  • James Poterba

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence on the level and distribution of income and payroll tax burdens for U.S. families over the 1979-1999 period. During this period, payroll taxes have become an increasingly important component of the tax burden for many low- and middle-income families. This paper uses a new and expanded version of the NBER TAXSIM program to analyze the impact of legislative changes in income and payroll taxes. Averaged over all families, the combined 1999 payroll and income tax burden was quite similar to what it would have been if the 1979 income and payroll tax laws had remained in force for the last two decades, with only inflation-based adjustments to tax brackets. The mix of income and payroll taxes has changed, however. As a result of the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as other changes in the federal personal income tax, payroll tax liabilities now exceed income tax liabilities for nearly two thirds of families. In 1979, payroll taxes exceeded income taxes for 44 percent of families.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Mitrusi & James Poterba, 2000. "The Distribution of Payroll and Income Tax Burdens, 1979-1999," NBER Working Papers 7707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7707
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    1. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
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    5. Daniel R. Feenberg & Andrew W. Mitrusi & James M. Poterba, 1997. "Distributional Effects of Adopting a National Retail Sales Tax," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 11, pages 49-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. McCaffery, Edward J. & Baron, Jonathan, 2003. "The Humpty Dumpty blues: Disaggregation bias in the evaluation of tax systems," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 230-242, July.
    2. Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Immervoll, Herwig & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2011. "Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 1978-2009: A Decomposition Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 5910, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Immervoll, Herwig & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2013. "Partisan Tax Policy and Income Inequality in the U.S., 1979-2007," IZA Discussion Papers 7190, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Andrew Mitrusi & James M. Poterba, 2001. "The Changing Importance of Income and Payroll Taxes on U.S. Families," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15, pages 95-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bargain, Olivier & Dolls, Mathias & Immervoll, Herwig & Neumann, Dirk & Peichl, Andreas & Pestel, Nico & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2014. "Tax policy and income inequality in the US, 1979-2007," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-001, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    6. Ferhan Salman, 2005. "Information, Capital Gains Taxes & New York Stock Exchange," Working Papers 0513, Research and Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
    7. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    8. David T. Ellwood & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "The Middle-Class Parent Penalty: Child Benefits in the U.S. Tax Code," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15, pages 1-40 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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