How the GOP Can Redeem Itself:

The Promise of Family-Centric Tax Reform The weeks leading up to Tax Day, April 15, have always triggered a lot of groaning about the complexity and burden of the U.S. income tax, but in recent years the criticism has taken a new tack: that increasing numbers of Americans pay no income tax. The lament is the inverse of the old misleading liberal Democratic claim, which prompted the creation of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) in 1969, that the very rich pay no income tax, but this time set forth by Republicans in general and economic conservatives in particular alarmed by the growing number among the bottom half of the income distribution that are paying no income tax. Just two days before Tax Day this year, the Heritage Foundation was quick on the draw with a Backgrounder by Curtis S. Dubay citing IRS data showing that the bottom 50 percent of tax filers pay less than 3 percent of all income taxes. According to Dubay, “the rapid increase in the number of nonpaying tax filers caused by tax credits is leading the country to a dangerous tipping point.” Like other conservatives and libertarians, he fears that once the bottom half of tax filers pay no taxes whatsoever, they “could vote themselves an increasing share of government benefits at no cost to themselves.”[1] The Heritage Foundation is not alone in pressing this point. Scott A. Hodge, the president of the Tax Foundation, makes a similar argument in a paper published a month before Dubay’s, using data showing how the expansion of the child tax credit to $1,000 in 2003 has led to a significant increase in the income level at which a married couple with two dependent children have zero income-tax liability, reaching $55,583 in 2008.[2] In addition, well-connected players in the GOP have joined the chorus. Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W. Bush, lamented in the Wall Street Journal just before Tax Day 2009 how the 2001 tax cuts of his boss, including the doubling of the ch
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