Report | Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment

Excise Taxes: Not Regressive? Comments on the CBO Study, Federal Taxation of Tobacco, Alcoholic Beverages, and Motor Fuels

Briefing Paper #15

Download PDF

Many people now agree that the principle of progressive taxation — the
criterion that taxes should be levied according to the ability to pay — is
essential to any deficit reduction plan with a claim to fairness. Otherwise, the
burden of deficit reduction wil1 fall on middle- and low-income taxpayers who
work for a living. These are people who have already suffered under the
upward redistribution of income and wealth and the downward shift in the tax
burden over the past ten years. As the title of a 1987 Economic Policy
Institute report urged, we should send the billfor the budget deficit to those
who went to the party.