THE TAX SYSTEM AS A VEHICLE FOR DELIVERING BENEFITS TO LOW-INCOME INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
Since its inception, taxation has been used to further social and economic policies through incidence and exemptions, rate levels, and exclusions. In the realm of U.S. individual taxation, tax policy has favored marriage(and sometimes penalized it) and the birth, adoption, care for, and education of children; it has promoted and subsidized retirement savings, home ownership, and the purchase of health insurance. Over the last hundred years, as the income tax became more democratized (Scholz, 2003) and evolved from a “class tax” to a “mass tax” (San Juan, 2011), refundable credits have emerged as a favored vehicle for delivering social benefits to individuals, particularly for low-to-middle income taxpayers.
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