9-9-9: The Most Massively Regressive Redistribution of Taxes Ever Seriously Considered

October 18th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

The Tax Policy Center’s analysis of candidate Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is out and man, it provides us with an embarrassment of riches in terms of which data to feature.

So let’s stick with the “embarrassment of riches” theme and look at dollars of federal tax change by income class.

The first figure shows that relative to current tax law, average tax payments go up, on average, for the bottom 80% of households, including the bottom fifth (average income, $10,100) by about $1,900, and for the middle fifth (avg inc: about $50,700) by about $4,300.  The average tax payment for the top fifth (avg inc: $273,000) falls by about $14,400.

 

Source: TPC, see link above; changes are relative to current tax policy.

But aggregating things up that way obscures just how extremely regressive 9-9-9 really is.  If you break out the top 1% (avg inc: $1.8 million) and the tippy-top 0.1% (avg inc: $7.9 million), that’s where you really see the plan go to work.  It reduces the tax burden of the top 1% by $238,000 and that of the top 0.1% by…wait for it…$1.4 freakin’ million!

 

Souce: TPC, see link above; changes are relative to current tax policy.

Conclusions:

–to implement the 9-9-9 plan would truly be the most dramatic and regressive shifting of the tax burden in the history of our nation;

–based on this policy, Herman Cain’s campaign is deeply out of touch with the challenges facing the American middle class;

–the Koch brothers may view these results as showing what smart investors they are, but I think they’ve overreached.

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10 comments in reply to "9-9-9: The Most Massively Regressive Redistribution of Taxes Ever Seriously Considered"

  1. D. C. Sessions says:

    And as usual, most analyses assume that people don’t change their behavior to avoid taxes. Most obviously, by incorporating and taking income as dividends (to name just one example.)


  2. Jason says:

    Thanks for yet another fantastic post. I’m curious to know how these changes look in terms of percentage of income.


    • Jared Bernstein says:

      Here they are, from the link in the post:

      Percent change in after-tax income, 9-9-9 plan
      compared to current tax law

      Lowest Quintile -17.0
      Second Quintile -13.0
      Middle Quintile -7.7
      Fourth Quintile -3.0
      Top Quintile 12.2
      Top 1 Percent 26.9
      Top 0.1 Percent 35.4

      Source: Tax Policy Center


  3. Economist's View: The "Embarrassment of Riches" says:

    [...] 9-9-9: The Most Massively Regressive Redistribution of Taxes Ever Seriously Considered, by Jared Be…: The Tax Policy Center’s analysis of candidate Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is out and man, it provides us with an embarrassment of riches in terms of which data to feature. [...]


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