New CTJ Report on Tax Expenditures

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A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice examines the amount of government "spending" done through the tax code in the form of special breaks and loopholes known as tax expenditures. The figures in the report illustrate that tax expenditures are a significant portion of federal spending and cannot be ignored as Congress addresses the budget deficit.

Read the report.

A simple example of a tax expenditure might be a break that Congress enacts in the corporate tax, giving a particular group of companies a benefit totaling $10 billion. The effect is the same as if Congress simply provided a subsidy through direct expenditures of $10 billion for those companies. Either way, the companies are $10 billion richer and there is $10 billion less to fund public services. In other words, other taxpayers who did not receive the special break have to pay for it through increased taxes or reduced public services.

Members of Congress often focus on discretionary expenditures, not because they make up most government spending but because they are politically easier to limit. In fact, the figures in this report show that discretionary expenditures are less significant than tax expenditures in many spending categories. The other problem with fixating on discretionary expenditures is the fact that most of them are for defense — and yet calls for capping discretionary expenditures are always limited to “non-defense” spending.

Thank you for visiting Tax Justice Blog. CTJ and ITEP staff will soon retire this domain. But ITEP staff are still blogging! You can find the same level of insight and analysis and select Tax Justice Blog archives at our new blog,

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