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Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Corporate Tax Cut Benefits All

Greg Mankiw has a great opinion piece in the NY Times on the benefits of reducing the corporate income tax:

In fact, a corporate rate cut would help a lot of voters, though they might not know it. The most basic lesson about corporate taxes is this: A corporation is not really a taxpayer at all. It is more like a tax collector.

The ultimate payers of the corporate tax are those individuals who have some stake in the company on which the tax is levied. If you own corporate equities, if you work for a corporation or if you buy goods and services from a corporation, you pay part of the corporate income tax. The corporate tax leads to lower returns on capital, lower wages or higher prices — and, most likely, a combination of all three.

A cut in the corporate tax as Mr. McCain proposes would initially give a boost to after-tax profits and stock prices, but the results would not end there. A stronger stock market would lead to more capital investment. More investment would lead to greater productivity. Greater productivity would lead to higher wages for workers and lower prices for

Populist critics deride this train of logic as “trickle-down economics.” But it is more accurate to call it textbook economics. Students in introductory economics courses learn that the burden of a tax does not necessarily stay where the Congress chooses to put it. That lesson is especially relevant when thinking about the corporate tax.

In a 2006 study, the economist William C. Randolph of the
Congressional Budget Office estimated who wins and who loses from this tax. He concluded that “domestic labor bears slightly more than 70 percent of the burden.”


To the extent that shareholders would benefit, they would pay higher taxes on dividends, capital gains and withdrawals from their retirement accounts. To the extent that workers would benefit, they would pay higher payroll and income taxes. Increased economic growth would tend to raise tax revenue from all sources.

The Tax Foundation recently reported that Pennsylvania's combined federal and state corporate income tax is second highest in the world, which might hurt our economic competitiveness just a bit.

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