Cigarettes are known killers, with nearly one in five deaths each year in the United States attributable to smoking. But there is a chance that U.S. smokers may soon be able to choose a less harmful alternative.
No one disputes that opioid abuse has caused an epidemic in our country, one that costs tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, of dollars per year. Less well known, but of vital importance to policymakers, is how these costs are distributed. Opioid abuse rates and deaths vary considerably from state to state, as do the costs associated with this epidemic. But researchers have generally focused on the economic impact of the crisis in the aggregate, at the US level. In a new analysis, I estimate the cost at the state level and find substantial variation across the country. Here, I offer a preview of my findings, which will be released in full next month.
“Those with a college degree or more have been enjoying a relatively tight labor market for a long time with unemployment rates near 2%. But it’s those with high school or less than high school degrees that had very high unemployment rates that now have the lowest unemployment rates they have ever seen around 5%. So things are pretty good across the spectrum both geographically and by the education dynamic.”
“Tax returns aren’t due for about 15 months until April 2019 and in that time IRS is going to put out guidance that is necessary. Particularly for this pass through provision which undoubtedly will involve some complications. But generally speaking, I think [with this tax reform] we are not aware of any loopholes or true drafting errors yet. We will see in the next weeks and months if anything opens up.”
“I think it is a historic moment and a fundamental change in the tax system in the United States primarily for one provision in particular – the change in the corporate tax rate from 35% down to 21%. Overall there’s probably close to 100 provisions, there is 500 pages to this bill. So there are lots of changes. I don’t love every single one of them and I am concerned about the deficit impact this bill will have. But I do think it’s going to drive a lot of investment into the United States. It’s going to make a lot of US firms more competitive globally.”
“There are all sorts of changes, international, regular C Corp, these pass through provisions for smaller businesses, and of course on the individual side. Everyone is going to be affected. The truth is, I think a lot of the middle class are going to be affected by a relatively small degree. The code is changing in many ways. Most of them will be better off, can’t guarantee that everyone will be better off…. I think the complexity of the tax code is shifting from the middle class, they’ll have a simpler system, but it’s shifting up to higher income individuals. And for many high income individuals, this pass-through provision is going to be more complex for them.”
Lawmakers are on the verge of fundamentally updating the international provisions of the US tax code. Currently, we have a worldwide system, under which profits US firms earn abroad are subject to US tax minus a credit for foreign taxes paid and subject to a deferral until repatriation. In an effort that began in 2011 with draft legislation from former Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, Republicans have been determined to transform the US tax code into a territorial system, under which active income earned abroad is generally exempt from US tax.
“The bills both in the House and the Senate not only reduce the corporate C corporation tax rate from 35 to 25%, the issue we have been discussing, but both bills create a lower tax rate for pass through businesses: sole proprietorships, S corps, LLCs. Not all LLC’s will get that pass through. Not all pass throughs will get that break. But there is a large explicit tax break for small businesses. With respect to the question about deductions, those deductions will remain. Business deductions will remain deductible. Other deductions for individuals, some of them are being curtailed, but not on the business side.”
Congress is deeply entrenched in an effort to reform the federal tax code. Central to this effort is a desire to lower the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent — a level on par with the rest of the developed world. Policymakers are keenly aware of the competitive advantages this change could bring based on similar rate changes across Europe and around the globe.
The United States is slowly but surely headed toward a federal debt crisis certain to inflict serious economic hardship on future generations. Today, the amount of federal debt held by the public stands at $14.8 trillion (all figures in this paper are in US dollars). While the US economy is expected to grow 76 percent in the next 30 years, that debt burden will, in inflation-adjusted terms, increase by over 240 percent during that time. Returning to a sustainable fiscal outlook will require hard choices and a clear understanding of both what led us to this point and the economic consequences of inaction.