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The 15.1 percent of individuals and 11.7 percent of families living in poverty in 2010 according to newly released Census data are the Americans most likely to be harmed by calls in Congress to address the large numbers of people who allegedly are “paying no taxes.” Aside from recipients of Social Security benefits (which are largely untaxed), all but the poorest Americans do pay federal income taxes or federal payroll taxes or both.

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President Barack Obama’s recent proposal to extend the 2 percent payroll tax holiday, which is currently in effect through 2011, is neither the most effective policy, nor the least effective policy, for boosting the economy. The estimates provided here compare the effectiveness of the payroll tax holiday and other policy options.

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Photo via WSDOT Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice examines the Medicare tax reform included in the health care plan recently put forward by President Obama. The report concludes that this reform would affect only 2.3 percent of taxpayers in 2014. The richest one percent would pay about 84 percent of the resulting tax increase, and the richest five percent would pay virtually all of the tax increase.

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Senate Democrats have proposed a new, very-high-rate excise tax on employer-paid health
insurance benefits that exceed certain levels. The goal is to force employers to eliminate
excessive benefits. Congressional analysts assume that employers then will replace their
employees’ lost health insurance benefits with increased taxable cash wages. Proponents of the
plan argue that this trade-off would be a progressive reform to the tax code, but this analysis concludes otherwise.

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(State-by-State Figures in Appendix)

H.R. 3962, the health care reform bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on November 7, includes a 5.4 percent surcharge on adjusted gross income (AGI) above $1 million for married couples and $500,000 for singles. Our calculations confirm statements from the House Ways and Means Committee that this would affect only the richest 0.3 percent of taxpayers in 2011, the first year the surcharge would take effect.

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Efforts by Congressional leaders to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are entirely reasonable. It is unfortunate, however, that the price of providing this necessary help will be tax breaks to corporations and to the housing industry. The expansion and extension of both the homebuyer credit and the "net operating loss carryback" are ill-advised.

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(State-by-State Figures in Appendix)

This report compares the revenue impact and distributional effects of six progressive revenue measures that have been discussed by members of Congress in recent months as options for financing health care reform. All of the six revenue measures examined here would make our tax system fairer, which is badly needed after the regressive tax cuts enacted over the past several years.

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(State-by-State Figures in Appendix)

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to begin work this week on an overhaul to the American health care system. Many lawmakers and health experts have expressed concern that the proposal put forward by the committee’s chairman, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, does not provide enough resources to make health care affordable for working families. One option being discussed in the Senate is to reform the Medicare tax to raise the revenue needed to improve the affordability provisions.

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Newly revised estimates from Citizens for Tax Justice show that the Bush tax cuts cost almost $2.5 trillion over the decade after they were first enacted (2001-2010). Preliminary estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office show that the House Democrats’ health care reform legislation is projected to cost $1 trillion over the decade after it would be enacted (2010-2019). And yet, many of the lawmakers who argue that the health care reform legislation is “too costly” are the same lawmakers who supported the Bush tax cuts.

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Very few small business owners would pay the surcharge included in the House health care reform legislation. Even for those few business owners rich enough to pay the surcharge, the incentives to create jobs would not change.

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