Romney’s tax plan for the 1%

On the heels of Mitt Romney’s narrow eight-vote victory in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday, the Tax Policy Center has put out a timely distributional analysis of the tax components of his economic plan. Over the course of his campaign, TPC notes, Romney has proposed “permanently extending the 2001-03 tax cuts, eliminating taxation of investment income of most individual taxpayers, reducing the corporate income tax, eliminating the estate tax, and repealing the taxes enacted in 2010’s health reform legislation.”

According to TPC, Romney’s tax plan would result in a significant increase in the deficit. Against a scenario in which the Bush tax cuts (and other provisions) are allowed to expire, the Romney plan would lower revenue by $600 billion in calendar year 2015, about a 16 percent cut. Assuming all expiring tax provisions are extended, his plan would reduce revenues by $180 billion in the same year.

How would people fare under the Romney plan? Distributional tables show the majority of the benefits from the proposed tax changes would go to those at the top of the income scale. Using a current policy baseline scenario, almost 60 percent of the share of total federal tax changes would go to those in the top 1 percent, and one-third of changes would go to those in the top 0.1 percent. (The figure below shows distributional effects under both a current law and current policy scenario.) Tax units making over $200,000 would see over 80 percent of the benefits. It is important to bear in mind that the top 1 percent of households received 65 percent of all income gains over 2002-07; these are generally not households struggling to make ends meet.

In contrast, many lower-income taxpayers would actually see their taxes increase because the Romney plan would allow the American Opportunity tax credit and portions of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit to expire. In fact, according to the TPC analysis, over half of the taxpayers facing a tax increase under Romney’s plan actually make less than $30,000 a year.

It’s not like we haven’t trod this path before. The Bush-era tax cuts blew a hole in the budget and failed to generate even mediocre economic results for middle-class households. Yet Romney’s tax plan, like many others being put forth in this election, doubles down on dangerous tax cuts, while heavily weighting the benefits toward the wealthy.