Friday, January 27, 2006

2003 Capital-Gains Tax Cut Paid for Itself

It has happened before and now again. A tax cut freed up enough money in private hands that was reinvested and spent and such. The result was more economic growth that resulted in more taxes being collected - due to the tax cut. The Congressional Budget Office predicted a loss of 2-year loss of $27 billion, but the result was a 2-year GAIN of $26 billion. Donald Luskin reports at National Review Online
On Thursday the Congressional Budget Office released its annual Budget and Economic Outlook, [(PDF file)] and buried in one of its nearly impenetrable tables of numbers is a remarkable story that has gone entirely unreported by the mainstream media: The 2003 tax cut on capital gains has entirely paid for itself. More than paid for itself. Way more. To appreciate this story, we have to go back in time to January 2003, before the tax cut was enacted. Table 3-5 on page 60 in CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook published in 2003 estimated that capital-gains tax liabilities would be $60 billion in 2004 and $65 billion in 2005, for a two-year total of $125 billion. Now let’s move forward a year, to January 2004, after the capital-gains tax cut had been enacted. Table 4-4 on page 82 in CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook of that year shows that the estimates for capital-gains tax liabilities had been lowered to $46 billion in 2004 and $52 billion in 2005, for a two-year total of $98 billion. Compare the original $125 billion total to the new $98 billion total, and we can infer that CBO was forecasting that the tax cut would cost the government $27 billion in revenues. Those are the estimates. Now let’s see how things really turned out. Take a look at Table 4-4 on page 92 of the Budget and Economic Outlook released this week. You’ll see that actual liabilities from capital-gains taxes were $71 billion in 2004, and $80 billion in 2005, for a two-year total of $151 billion. So let’s do the math one more time: Subtract the originally estimated two-year liability of $125 billion from the actual liability of $151 billion, and you get a $26 billion upside surprise for the government. Yes, instead of costing the government $27 billion in revenues, the tax cuts actually earned the government $26 billion extra.
You saw it - a gain of $26 billion after the tax cut. Blame Bush.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of taxes, this would be a good article to mention the Fair Tax proposal, which would (among other things) abolish ALL capital gains taxes.

Read about it at


Biggest win I see in the idea, is that it would result in the repatriation of about 11 trillion dollars to the USA.