Map & Data Resources

Obama seeks to lock in corporate taxes near historic lows

Map & Data Resources | By Lori Bikson |

Feb. 22, 2012 — The Obama administration plans to ask Congress to close some corporate tax loopholes, but to lower rates at the same time — to a top rate of 28 percent from the current 35 percent, with a maximum 25 percent effective rate on manufacturers. The “revenue neutral” approach means rejecting the possibility of using additional revenue to lower the deficit or to pay the cost of a wide array of government programs currently underfunded or without funding altogether.  Instead, administraton officials are quoted by The New York Times  as saying that changes to the corporate tax code should not add to the deficit, and that “most or all revenue raised by closing tax breaks should be used to lower rates or offset the cost of new or existing tax breaks favoring manufacturing, clean energy, and research and development activities.”

This week, Remapping Debate presents three data visualizations that put in context the historical level at which the President seeks to freeze corporate tax revenue and rates. Note: unlike our usual practice, we are experimenting with placing all vizes on one page make sure to scroll down to see all three.

The first adjusts corporate tax receipts both for inflation and for population growth, and shows that the 2011 level was distinctly lower than that of all but a handful of years since the end of World War II.




The second visualization, below, shows the effective corporate tax rate over time (in orange) and the percentage of GDP that is represented by corporate tax revenues (in blue). Both levels have generally declined over time, with both being substantially less than the first 30 years of the period after World War II.




The third of our visualizations, below, captures the percentage of tax revenue that is attributable over time to different types of taxes (personal income tax, corporate, payroll, excise, and other, the last of which is primarily composed of estate taxes). Most strikingly, the percentage attributable to corporate taxes has declined as the percentage attributable to payroll taxes has risen.




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