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Should We Evaluate Tax Expenditures?

Bipartisan Policy Center
1225 Eye St NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
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Tax expenditures cost the federal government about $1.5 trillion each year. Sometimes referred to as spending through the tax code, tax expenditures stem from special tax-based preferences or exclusions. Yet tax expenditures are rarely subject to the same level of scrutiny or oversight as federal spending programs. Despite increasing interest among lawmakers to use rigorous evaluations to inform policy decisions, development of an evidence base for tax expenditures has been limited—making it difficult to systematically evaluate whether they are effective and produce the intended outcomes.

BPC and Results for America held a discussion of the issues related to evaluating tax expenditures. Ben Harris, Results for America Chief Economist, and Gene Steuerle, Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair with the Urban Institute, presented a new paper on evaluating tax expenditures, and a panel of experts reacted to the paper and discussed their views on the question of improving evaluation and oversight of federal tax expenditures.


Doug Holtz-Eakin
President, American Action Forum
Former Director, Congressional Budget Office

Thomas Barthold
Chief of Staff, Joint Committee on Taxation

Ben Harris
Chief Economist, Results for America
Former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Biden

Rohit Kumar
Principal, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Former Domestic Policy Director for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

Diane Lim
Principal Economist, The Conference Board

Bruce Reed
Senior Fellow, Results for America
Former Director, Domestic Policy Council

Eugene Steuerle
Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair, Urban Institute
Co-Founder, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center


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