As every policy wonk knows, a tax-reform proposal isn't worth its salt until the distribution analysis is done. By that I mean the effect of any proposed changes in income-tax rates, loopholes and exclusions on actual taxpayers in various income brackets.
Does it maintain or improve the tax code's progressivity, so that taxpayers in the lower brackets don't bear a larger burden? Or is it regressive, in that it mostly helps the wealthiest taxpayers? The Tax Policy Center, a Brookings Institution and Urban Institute joint venture, has just released the first such in-depth analysis of Mitt Romney's tax plan, and it's not pretty. Unless you happen to be wealthy.
To refresh your memory, Romney would extend the 2001-03 tax cuts of President George W. Bush and reduce individual income-tax rates by 20 percent so that the top bracket would fall from 35 percent to 28 percent and the bottom bracket would fall from 10 percent to 8 percent. Romney also would eliminate taxes on investment income -- dividends and capital gains -- for most taxpayers, end the estate tax, repeal the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and ditch the higher income-tax rates enacted in health-reform legislation.