Tax policy and economic inequality in the United States
The provisions of the United States Internal Revenue Code regarding income taxes and estate taxes have undergone significant changes under both Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses since 1964. Since the Johnson Administration, the top marginal income tax rates have been reduced from 91% for the wealthiest Americans in 1963 to 39.6% (or in some cases 43.4%) for the same group by 2013 under the Obama Administration. Capital gains taxes have also decreased over the last several years, and have experienced a more punctuated evolution than income taxes as significant and frequent changes to these rates occurred from 1981 to 2011. Both estate and inheritance taxes have been steadily declining since the 1990s. Economic inequality in the United States has been steadily increasing since the 1980s as well and economists such as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Peter Orszag, politicians like Barack Obama and Paul Ryan, and media entities have engaged in debates and accusations over the role of tax policy changes in perpetuating economic inequality.A 2011 Congressional Research Service report stated, ""Changes in capital gains and dividends were the largest contributor to the increase in the overall income inequality.""Scholarly and popular literature exists on this topic with numerous works on both sides of the debate. The work of Emmanuel Saez, for example, has concerned the role of American tax policy in aggregating wealth into the richest households in recent years while Thomas Sowell and Gary Becker maintain that education, globalization, and market forces are the root causes of income and overall economic inequality. The Revenue Act of 1964 and the ""Bush Tax Cuts"" coincide with the rising economic inequality in the United States both by socioeconomic class and race.