How can we explain the widely observed mismatch between voter support for redistributive policies and actual levels of redistribution achieved? In contrast to most extant research, this project focuses on the redistributive role of tax policy. The project relies on an analysis of state-level administrative data as well as an analysis of media coverage to pursue three substantive goals: It examines how political, institutional, and organizational factors have affected variation in tax progressivity across states. It also examines whether the way tax rates are structured subsequently affects the redistributive character of state expenditure policies. Finally, the proposed research investigates how the way tax issues are framed in public discourse affects voter support for redistributive policies. In addition, the project seeks to develop a way to measure actual voter support for redistributive policies.
Broader Impacts The general public has repeatedly demonstrated a pronounced interest in how taxes are used to finance entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Federal income tax progressivity has declined in recent years, while noticeable state-level differences in income tax policies persist. This research will produce a comprehensive data set of value to the public. Findings from this study may further our understanding of the substantial role that taxes play in redistributive policies. These findings may be of interest to a broad range of stakeholders, including taxpayers, policy makers, and government officials at all levels.