Latest from the TPC

Tax Policy Center | A Project of the Urban Institute & the Brookings Institution

Here's the latest from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center:

(1) The State Fiscal Crisis: Why it Happened, What to do About it Peter Orszag Milken Institute Review Third Quarter, 2003

State governments play a critical role in the nation's fiscal and economic system. They collect revenues on the order of 6 percent of GDP, or roughly a third as much as the federal government. They have long been responsible for key government functions that affect long-term economic growth as well as everyday life-notably, education and law enforcement. What's more, over the past two decades, devolution has given them expanded responsibilities in core areas like health care and welfare. The ability of state governments to meet their obligations is now threatened by yawning budget deficits.

(2) The Dynamics of Scoring: A Congressional Tale Rudy Penner Milken Institute Review Third Quarter, 2003

Every bill reported out of a Congressional committee must be scored - that is, its potential impact on government revenues and outlays estimated. The Joint Committee on Taxation considers bills that affect major revenue sources, while the Congressional Budget Office scores bills' spending impact along with revenues from less important sources like import tariffs. And though the process seems dull on first consideration, budget scoring can make a world of difference in how we are taxed and how much is spent. Hence, the analysts who labor deep in the background to produce scores are extremely powerful. A prime example: the recent tax cut.

(3) My Weekend with Nick and Adam: Tax Policy and Other Willful Misunderstandings Leonard Burman and Joel Slemrod Milken Institute Review Third Quarter, 2003

This article is an imaginary debate between partisans in the modern tax policy wars. The goal is to try to tease out economists' honest differences and maybe find some common ground. Although we've heard real people make every one of the arguments expressed here, our characters are fictional.

(4) Is the Tax Expenditure Concept Still Relevant? Leonard Burman National Tax Journal Forthcoming, September, 2003

The term "tax expenditure" refers to departures from the normal tax structure designed to favor a particular industry, activity, or class of persons. Most budget experts view the tax expenditure budget as a useful tool in managing the size and scope of the federal government, but a growing contingent of conservative critics has raised questions about the concept. The paper examines tax expenditure measurement issues, the debate about their relevance and new measures tentatively explored by the Bush administration's budget, the way tax expenditure estimates are used in the U.S., and how they might be made more useful.

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