Tax Analysts Blog

Chief Economist
Martin A. Sullivan

Martin A. Sullivan, chief economist and contributing editor for Tax Analysts’ daily and weekly publications and blog, is an expert on federal tax reform. Sullivan has written over 500 economic analyses for Tax Analysts’ publications and is the author of two books on tax reform, including the recent Corporate Tax Reform: Taxing Profits in the 21st Century. He has testified before Congress on numerous occasions. Previously, Sullivan taught economics at Rutgers University and served as a staff economist at the U.S. Treasury Department and later at the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Sullivan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received a PhD in economics from Northwestern University. In October 2013 he was the subject of a 4,500-word feature in The Washington Post by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steven Pearlstein.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

​Joe had a nice little plumbing business in a pleasant small town. After paying his business expenses, he pulled in a tidy $100,000 a year. For protection against lawsuits, he was incorporated. But he didn’t pay corporate tax. His accountant, Mrs. Ledger, said Joe’s business was a subchapter S corporation, and that meant all his business income passed through to his 1040. So he paid tax on his plumbing income at his personal income tax rate. It was all simple enough. Then along came the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Finally we’ve had time to review all the dynamic estimates now available on the pending tax legislation. The results are not surprising given what mainstream economists have been saying about the legislation’s effect on growth.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Whether you love or hate the tax bill soon to receive President Trump’s signature, knowing about its hidden problems and opportunities could play a major role in determining everything from your own personal finances to the outcome of the 2018 elections. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

I write this as the sun is rising on Capitol Hill. It’s a brisk Friday morning, the first day of December. Senators should already have flown home for their five-day weekends. But Elizabeth MacDonough and Tom Barthold have made that impossible. Elizabeth is the Senate Parliamentarian, the unelected but respected referee who rules on what is in and out of bounds of Senate rules.

Monday, November 27, 2017

History will be made this week on the Senate floor as well as in the opulent cloakrooms adjacent to it, where cameras are not allowed. More than likely it will be in these spaces – no larger than a high school basketball arena and the adjacent locker rooms -- where the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress will draft and then pass the most significant piece of tax legislation in 31 years.

Friday, November 17, 2017

On Capitol Hill and in the media, there is a great deal of debate about the fairness of the Senate bill, especially after the November 16 release of the distribution tables from the Joint Committee on Taxation. (Doc JCX-58-17 at Below is a visual summary of one of those tables with some (nonpartisan) embellishment by your author. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

The ultimate fate of the tax cut now before Congress will probably depend more on fairness than competitiveness. But what is fairness?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Tax Analysts reports that Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady will release a description and statutory text of his long-awaited tax plan on November 1. Markup will begin on November 6. No matter how smart you are, five days doesn’t provide a lot of time to evaluate an extremely complex piece of legislation.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Currently, in poll after poll, Americans by a large majority believe that U.S. corporations pay too little in taxes, and they fear future tax cuts will favor corporations and the wealthy. Business-only tax reform may be good economics, but no member of Congress from either party will seriously consider it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The October 16 study from the Council of Economic Advisors — which I will take the liberty here to rename “The Economic Effects of a Yet Unspecified Corporate Tax Reform: Some Theory and Some Evidence” — is a classic example of how industry and partisan interests use economic analysis to give the public the impression their views are scientifically proven.

Monday, October 16, 2017

For years—especially since the Republican Congress and President Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts to all but those in the highest brackets -- passthrough businesses have been bemoaning their potentially unfair treatment under the next tax reform.

Monday, September 21, 2015
Ever since Mr. 47 Percent with his 14 percent tax rate lost the 2012 presidential election, Republicans have made it their business to connect with working-class Americans. So supply-side economics and all its focus on tax breaks for businesses and investors had to make way for a new kind of thinki...
Monday, July 27, 2015
“That deferral is a very valuable thing.” - Donald Trump, March 5, 2015 Donald Trump did not like the tax reform Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1986. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, he called it “one of the worst ideas in recent history.” The reason for his dislike was that the reform...
Monday, July 20, 2015
Inclusive capitalism. Can it possibly be as wonderful as its supporters claim? According to a report released in January by the Center for American Progress (CAP), the think-tank that is the source of many ideas for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, workers whose employers provide profit-sha...
Monday, July 13, 2015
The sharing economy. The collaborative economy. The Uber economy. It goes by many names. Whatever you call it, the phenomenon of specialized on-line marketplaces connecting small businesses with customers is growing by leaps and bounds. The primary builders of these marketplaces are tech-savvy, ven...
Monday, July 6, 2015
“There's no one in the administration or in D.C. that's contemplating a federal bailout of Puerto Rico,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on June 29. That statement is simply false. It may be true that the Treasury is not contemplating cash subsidies or loan guarantees for...
Monday, June 8, 2015
Tax reformers and economists usually hate tax breaks. The way they see it is like this: Unprincipled politicians can't resist giving away goodies. So our tax code is littered with complications designed to channel subsidies to the well-connected. This makes a mess of the free market. The economy'...
Monday, June 1, 2015
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge was first sponsored by antitax activist Grover Norquist in 1986. No one who follows tax policy can deny that it has had enormous influence over the last quarter-century. Rather than incur the wrath of the media-magnetic Norquist, pledge signers avoid tax increases lik...
Monday, May 18, 2015
In his autobiography, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., describes two different types of legislation. A proposal can be a "B-HAG, a big, hairy audacious goal," or it can be a "Tallahassee Special" -- a proposal that politicians announce with great fanfare but that makes little real difference in people's l...
Monday, May 4, 2015
Since becoming governor of Wisconsin in 2011, Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker has signed into law 15 tax bills that have reduced taxes by nearly $2 billion. "Every action of our administration should be looked at through the lens of job creation," Walker told lawmakers in early 2011. I...