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Potential health gains from income and wealth tax proposals in the U.S.

The project: Presidential candidates in the 2020 election have made income inequality a major issue. While many candidates have introduced comprehensive tax policies, there has been little research done to understand the impact of income gains from various tax policy proposals on long-term health outcomes. This study is designed to collate evidence around the link between income and health and examine the implications for current proposals to redistribute income and wealth. 

The process: Researchers conducted a systematic literature review to gather and analyze existing research on health gains associated with previous income and wealth tax policies on the U.S. population. They had planned to use simulation modeling to estimate the health impacts of different policy proposals on taxation and redistribution in the U.S. raised during the 2020 election cycle, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early in 2020 shifted their focus. 

Results: Researchers analyzed the health risks facing low-wage workers during the pandemic and potential federal policy responses to address income and wealth inequality. Their findings included analysis of the impact of policies like providing cash and in-kind support to people living in poverty, providing hazard pay for essential workers during the pandemic, raising the minimum wage, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, offering a federal jobs guarantee, adopting a wealth tax to fund social programs, and offering guaranteed income.

David W. Hutton, U-M School of Public Health
Anton L.V. Avanceña, doctoral candidate, U-M School of Public Health
Bradley Iott, doctoral candidate, U-M School of Public Health
Ellen Kim DeLuca, doctoral candidate, U-M School of Public Health