Posts by Jeff Van Wychen

Is the Estate Tax Really “Double Taxation?”

Estate taxes reduce wealth inequality by taxing a portion of huge intergenerational wealth transfers, as noted in the previous installment in this series. Nonetheless, conservatives consistently call for reductions to or elimination of this tax, partly on the grounds that it constitutes “double taxation.” Armed with this assertion in 2017, conservatives reduced this tax both…

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Estate Taxes in the Age of Inequality

Income and wealth inequality has accelerated in recent decades; at the same time, reliance on the progressive estate tax as a state revenue source has waned. Certainly, the decline of the estate tax is not the only—or even a primary—cause for the increase in inequality, but it is an effective remedy for offsetting some of…

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Minnesota Kids Above Average, But Not as Much as They Used to Be

Ten years ago, Minnesota failed to live up to its reputation for having a well-funded public school system relative to other states, as per pupil public school spending in the Gopher State dropped below the national average. While recent increases in school funding have brought per pupil spending in Minnesota once again above the U.S.…

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Minnesota Revenue & Spending Levels Typical of Other States

While Minnesota ranks fairly high among states in terms of per capita own-source revenue, total revenue, and total spending, these per capita measures are not a reliable way to gauge the relative size of government among states. As noted in the preceding article, states with high per capita incomes almost always have higher per capita…

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Tax, Revenue, Spending Rankings in Perspective

Americans love rankings. We rank everything from Division 1 college football teams to states with the worst winters. (Without much trouble, you can probably guess which one Minnesota leads the nation in!) Policy nerds (like me) and politicians often talk about tax rankings. Less frequently discussed—but as or perhaps more important—are rankings of states based…

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Minnesota: the Best Run State in the U.S.

Minnesota progressives can tout a new achievement: the state was recently ranked the best run state in the nation, according to a 24/7 Wall Street report published by USA Today. This report is not based on an ideologically skewed methodology designed to prefer blue states over red states or vice versa, but on a wide…

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When Equal Unemployment Rates Are Not Equal

Minnesota and Wisconsin currently enjoy low unemployment rates relative to the rest of the nation. In addition, both states enjoyed an above average decline in unemployment rates since the beginning of the Great Recession. However, this does not mean that the economies of these states have performed equally well. Minnesota achieved its low unemployment rate…

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State Deficit Worse Than It Appears

True to expectations, the condition of Minnesota’s finances has deteriorated from what was projected at the end of the 2017 special session. Based on the November forecast released earlier today, a modest deficit is now projected for the current fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 biennium and a significant deficit is projected for the upcoming FY 2020-21…

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Low-Tax Wisconsin Losing More Income Tax Filers than Minnesota

In recent years, there has been a small net migration of income tax filers from Minnesota to other states. Conservative think tanks have argued that this net export of tax filers from the state is due to Minnesota’s tax climate—a claim debunked in a previous North Star article. A comparison of Minnesota to relatively low-tax…

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St. Paul Spending Isn’t “Out of Control”

The City of Saint Paul is confronting a potential 24 percent increase in its levy in 2018, based on a preliminary budget proposal. The increase is largely the result of a Minnesota Supreme Court decision handed down last summer, which stripped the City of its ability to issue “right of way” maintenance assessments. This eliminated…

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