The United Nations has issued a report attacking American tax, welfare, health-care, and criminal-justice policies. It’s “thoughtless political propaganda,” I argue at Bloomberg Opinion.
Alston’s report asserts that the tax cut of December 2017 “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy,” without so much as a footnote to back him up. The truth is more complicated.
The tax cut reduced federal tax burdens in rough proportion to how much each income group pays in federal taxes. People who make more than a million dollars a year will see their federal taxes drop by a slightly smaller percentage than other people will. On the other hand, they will do much better than most people if you measure the effect of the tax cut on their after-tax incomes. That’s what happens when you cut highly progressive federal taxes proportionally.
Which way is the right way to look at it depends on your premises about what taxes are supposed to do. The U.N.-commissioned report pretends there’s an undisputed fact of the matter and, worse, wrongly implies that federal taxes are not progressive at all.