Robert McIntyre

Robert S. McIntyre is director of Citizens for Tax Justice and a contributing editor for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist

Dept. of Boneheaded Studies In 1999, two states, New Hampshire and Tennessee, considered adopting a broad-based income tax. This sent antitax lobbying groups into a frenzy of "studies" purporting to show that such a step would be a disaster for the economies of the two states. The lamest of the reports was published in mid-October by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), an anti-union group. The report's central observation was that six states that had adopted an income tax around 1970 had seen lower economic growth between 1970 and 1990 than they had between 1950 and 1970, before the income tax went into effect. Clearly, the NTU report concluded, those nefarious income taxes were the culprits behind the slower growth. But the report left out one small point: every single state in the country had lower economic growth after 1970 than before (remember OPEC, stagflation, and all that?). Talk about selective use of data. ...

The Taxonomist

Voodoo Tax Calculator George W. Bush's Web site includes a "Bush For President Tax Calculator" that ostensibly lets taxpayers "See How Governor Bush's Tax Plan Helps Working Americans." But the calculator often simply doesn't work. If you type "single, two kids, making $22,000," for example, you'll be told that your current income tax is $110 and that your tax under Bush would be zero. That's pretty far off, since the actual figures are minus $1,701 now and minus $1,811 under Bush. Perhaps to avoid conflicting with Bush's claim that single mothers are grossly overtaxed today, the Bush calculator leaves out the Earned Income Tax Credit. As a result, the tax information it provides for families making less than $30,000 is usually wrong. Oddly, the Bush calculator won't allow income entries greater than $100,000--quite an oversight, given that most of Bush's tax cuts are targeted to the 11 million couples and individuals who make more than that amount. Of course, if Bush's calculator...

The Taxonomist

Bush's "Progressive" Tax Plan "The Bush tax cuts benefit all Americans, but reserve the greatest percentage reduction for the lowest income families." (12/1/99) "Our tax code, in the end, will be more progressive." (4/11/00) These Bush claims are real whoppers. In fact, more than a quarter of all Americans would get nothing at all from Bush's tax cut plan. As a share of federal taxes paid now, the Bush plan amounts to a 5.9 percent reduction for the bottom fifth, an 8.4 percent reduction for those in the middle, and a 15.7 percent tax cut for the best-off 1 percent. As a result, the tax code will be significantly less progressive if Bush's tax plan is enacted. To assert that his tax cuts favor those at lower income levels, Bush chooses to misleadingly focus on only one federal tax, the progressive personal income tax. But most of the federal taxes that lower- and middle-income people pay are payroll taxes and excise taxes, neither of which are affected by Bush's plan. Probably the...

The Taxonomist

George W. Bush's transition team and House Minority Whip Tom DeLay may have had an unacknowledged motive to delay passage of the 2001 budget: An idea going around in December was to put off the budget bill until February so that it could be combined with repeal of the federal estate tax. Because budget reconciliation bills are virtually filibuster-proof in the Senate, that would probably ensure quick passage of the repeal. According to inside sources, a bill to phase out the tax on wealth over a five-year period was drafted in early December by congressional staff at Bush's direction. (During the presidential campaign, Bush proposed to repeal the tax by 2009.) The new Bush plan was kept under wraps so that it could be sprung at the last minute, before opponents had a chance to mount a fight. Those opponents include not only fair-tax advocates like me, but also financially endangered groups such as estate planners, insurance companies, and the states. ...

The Taxonomist

Gore Plan Prevails Remember how George W. Bush regaled the voters last year with his criticism of Al Gore's "targeted" tax cuts? "You only get a tax break if you do exactly what the government tells you to do," Bush frequently carped. Well, Bush has now revealed the fine print of his own tax proposals--and lo and behold, those new details look remarkably like what Gore proposed. On top of the eight tax-cut provisions he campaigned on, Bush's budget adds 29 more, with a price tag of $138 billion over 10 years. If you retrofit your home to use solar energy, or purchase health insurance, or buy long-term-care insurance, or make electricity from garbage, or take care of an ailing parent, or get a computer from your employer so you can work at home because you're disabled, or adopt a child, or set up an international corporate tax shelter, or sell your land to a conservation trust, or do any of a long list of other things that Big Brother Bush thinks are important, you get a tax cut. If...

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