A primer on America’s $1.1 trillion in tax code expenditures

by Ryan Streeter on October 26, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Did you know that of the 33% of taxpayers who itemize their deductions, only 20% claim the mortgage interest deduction, and of those, two-thirds have annual incomes above $100,000?

Or that individual taxpayers receive $891 billion in expenditures in the tax code, and corporations $181 billion, which together nearly equal what the federal government collects in total taxes each year?

That data point and a bunch of others like it can be found in this useful new study on the biggest tax expenditures in our tax code by Mercatus.

This issue has been front and center in an almost-always-vague way during the presidential race. Romney, for instance, claims that his tax reform is revenue neutral because he’ll offset his 20% tax cut with reductions in the loopholes in the tax code.

But what are those loopholes? The Mercatus study is a nice primer on the topic.

So you’ve got them, here are the biggest personal and corporate tax expenditures:



I’ve written before somewhere that once we start trying to reform the tax code by eliminating loopholes, credits, and deductions, you’ll see all kinds of special interest fireworks at least as great as we see anytime we start talking about budget and program cuts. Democrats and Republicans alike are responsible for all this stuff, and the interests are deeply embedded.