Robert McIntyre

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

Recent Articles

The Taxonomist

As we file our often complicated income-tax returns this April, should we take heart that President Bush's budget includes a section titled "Simplify the Tax Laws"? Not really. Elsewhere in the budget are some five dozen proposed tax breaks that would cram even more lines onto the already overcrowded Form 1040. But Bush's feigned call to simplify is much worse than mere chutzpah. Of Bush's three so-called simplification measures, one is trivial, one is nothing but a sop to a few very well-off taxpayers and one is truly insidious. The trivial item involves the tax code's definition of "dependent child." Currently there are two slightly different rules. To qualify for the $3,000 per-child exemption, the $600 child tax credit and the day-care credit, parents must provide more than half of their children's support. In contrast, parents who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and single parents who file as "heads of household" must live with their children for more than half the year...

The Taxonomist

I've long been a bit of a conservative on fiscal policy. Of course, that dates back to when conservative was spelled with a "c." What passes for conservatism in this country these days seems to be a combination of kooky economic theories, gross irresponsibility and shady rhetoric. Take, as a leading example, George W. Bush. "This country has many challenges," the president pointed out in his State of the Union address. "We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents and other generations. We will confront them with focus and clarity and courage." Nice sentiments, but of course Bush was just kidding. Remember back in 2001, when Alan Greenspan professed to be so worried about the potential elimination of the national debt that he endorsed Bush's first round of tax cuts? That was extremely optimistic, but the year before Bush took office, the federal government did run a surplus of $236 billion -- $150 billion in Social...

The Taxonomist: Evildoer

I f, like our president and vice president, you strongly believe that cutting taxes leads to higher tax revenues, the past year and a half must have been very disappointing. Despite the huge tax cut enacted in the spring of 2001, personal income-tax collections have plummeted since George W. Bush took office, dropping from 10.1 percent of the economy in fiscal 2000 to 9.6 percent in fiscal 2001 to only 8 percent in fiscal 2002. But, sadly, dashed hopes haven't led to second thoughts. On the contrary, Bush has decided that our economy is lagging because his 2001 tax cut simply wasn't big enough. So now he wants to increase it -- by more than half. Bush's original 2001 tax-cut plan will cost $1.35 trillion over this decade, or $1.6 trillion including interest. The president puts the 10-year price tag on his new tax-cut package at another $674 billion -- $900 billion with interest. That, plus Bush's $114 billion in corporate tax cuts enacted a year ago, brings his hoped-for tax cuts to a...

The Taxonomist: New Gang, Old Myths

W hen George W. Bush hired a new economic team in early December, the press speculated that the change might bring a glimmer of fiscal sanity to the administration's economic policies. Don't bet on it. As Stephen Moore of the anti-tax, big-deficit Club for Growth cult put it, whatever their past records, the new boys will "drink the Kool-Aid." And sadly, our president will keep proposing the same solution to every problem: more tax cuts for the rich. So here are a few things to keep in mind as this year's tax debate unfolds. The myth of the "double taxation of dividends." The newest item on Bush's tax-cut agenda is to reduce or end taxes on dividends. This could be very expensive, not to mention hugely regressive. Most of the $25 billion a year in tax cuts from wiping out personal income taxes on dividends would go to the best-off 1 percent of the population. In defense of this latest upper-income giveaway, Bush invokes tax equity. Corporate profits are unfairly "double-taxed," he...

The Taxonomist

S omething I've drummed into my staff over the years is that no analysis is complete until it's passed a reality check. By that I mean that everything we do must be recalculated using alternative approaches to ensure that we haven't made some silly mistake. Unfortunately, this lesson doesn't seem to be taught at the Bush Treasury Department. On Nov. 19, Pamela Olson, the Treasury's assistant secretary for tax policy, informed the National Foreign Trade Council that, in her view, America's tax laws are far too tough on corporations compared with how businesses are taxed in other countries. "It is time for us to revisit our tax rules to function in the world in which we live," she told the assembled representatives of multinational corporations and their accountants. "Our tax rules appear outmoded at best and anti-competitive at worst." It's possible that Olson has actually swallowed this fantastic piece of corporate propaganda. But it's inconceivable that she did any reality checking...

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