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Who Paid the Taxes, 1966-85?

By Joseph A. Pechman

Who bears the tax burden in the United States? How has the distribution of taxes changed in the past two decades? What changes have occurred in the distribution of income before and after taxes? This book reports the results of a long-term program of research on the distribution of tax burdens. The analysis is based on a unique series of microdata sets developed by merging the information from the annual consumer population surveys of the U.S. Census Bureau and the tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The first results of this research program were presented in Who Bears the Tax Burden? (Brookings, 1974), which presented estimates of the distribution of federal, state, and local taxes in 1966. In this sequel to the 1974 volume, Joseph A. Pechman presents estimates for 1970, 1975, 1980, and 1985. The study concludes that the tax system became less progressive between 1966 and 1985, primarily because the corporation income and property taxes declined in importance while heavier emphasis was being placed on the payroll tax.

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