Regressive policies that would shift the tax burden from the rich to those below them on the income scale are of course very unpopular. And so they are often presented as something they are not: measures to simplify tax filing.
The budget outline released Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a case in point. The House budget bemoans the complexity of the tax code at length. But the actual policies have nothing to do with making the tax code simpler and everything to do with making it less fair. The talk of simplicity is a distraction from the budget’s real goal of shifting the tax burden from the rich to the middle class. In fact, this approach would keep or expand features of the tax code that add complexity and encourage gaming the system.
Seth Hanlon examines the two ways it makes the tax code more regressive: by eliminating tax brackets, which will cut taxes on the rich, and by continuing to treat different kinds of income unequally.
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