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Restoring Progressive Taxation

Americans for Democratic Action believes that in the interest of fairness and raising adequate revenue, our government must be financed based on ability to pay.  Legislative and executive action should eliminate tax evasion and avoidance.

  • Restore progressivity to our personal and corporate income tax systems.

  • Expand and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit.

  • Greatly enhance enforcement capabilities of the IRS to ensure that taxes owed are paid.
  • End corporate and personal tax loopholes that have undermined our tax structure.


America’s three-decade-long trend (albeit with a few healthful deviations in the 1990s) away from fair taxation and adequate public revenue is finally being challenged this year, first on the campaign trail and then in a titanic debate in Congress following the fall elections.  At most immediate issue is the fate of tax cuts first passed in the early years of the Bush Administration. Republicans want to extend them for all taxpayers, including the very wealthiest.  Democrats propose the extension only apply to the first quarter million dollars in income—a level that covers 98 percent of all households—with amounts over that subject to the tax rates of the prosperous Clinton years.  If this basic battle can be won, it will open the door to more basic tax reforms (such as ending the preferential treatment of wealth-generated income), eventually returning the tax code to the progressivity that helped create the Middle Class and make the United States a world leader.

Key Legislative Differences:

  • The Democrats’ tax cut plan covers 98 percent of the American households, and 97 percent of all small businesses.
  • Under the Republican plan, taxpayers with over a million dollars in incomes will receive on average an approximate $150,000 tax cut per family. It will cost the federal government over $100 billion a year.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe we should restore the pre-Bush rates on the wealthiest 2 percent to help address our public debt.
  • Click here for a legislative comparison.


  • Talk to your friends and neighbors about tax fairness.
  • Ask political candidates where they stand on the issue.
  • Contact your members of Congress and urge them to let the Bush-era tax cuts on the top 2 percent of taxpayers expire on schedule.


ADA's Working Families Win's program kicked off the Invest in America Tax Equity and Public Investment campaign in our nation's capitol with several public events surrounding Tax Day 2012.  Events focused on progressive tax reform and wise public investments.  Events included:

Progressive Tax Reform Summit hosted by John Nichols from The Nation magazine.  The panel discussion focused on the job-creating power of public spending and history of progressive tax reform.  Panel experts included Robert McIntyre from Citizens for Tax Justice, Mike Lapham from United for a Fair Economy, Rebecca Thiess from the Economic Policy Institute, Dean Baker from the Center for Econmic and Policy Research, Chick Marr from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Elspeth Gilmore from Resource Generation

The discussion can be viewed here in its entirety on CSPAN.


The panel was followed by a Tax Day Rally outside anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform office.  The "Go to Grovers on Tax Day" rally was sponsored by: AFSCME, Americans for Democratic Action, American Federation of Government Employees, Campaign for America’s Future, Campus Progress/Center for American Progress, Coalition on Human Needs, Coffee Party USA, DC Jobs With Justice, Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, National People’s Action, Responsible Wealth, The Agenda Project, United for A Fair Economy, USAction, US Uncut and Wealth for the Common Good.

Click here to see PBS coverage of the rally.

Click here to see Wall Street Journal coverage of the rally.

Click here to see Washington Times coverage of the rally.

Watch Working Families Win and allies gather outside of Grover Norquist's office here:

The DC Labor Chorus entertained rally participants with song.  Watch the video here:


Working Families Win organized a coalition of a dozen national tax equity, general progressive, and local labor and activist groups to help make the Tax Day events successful.  We thank the AFL-CIO, The Agenda Project (Patriotic Millionaires), Business for Shared Prosperity, Citizens for Tax Justice, Coffee Party USA, DC Jobs With Justice, Resource Generation, SEIU, United for a Fair Economy and Wealth for the Common Good for your hard work.  The following organizations can provide more detailed information on the issue of tax equity:

Citizens for Tax Justice

United for a Fair Economy

Economic Policy Institute

Center for Econmic and Policy Research

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Stop Tax Haven Abuse

Americans for Democratic Action supports efforts by Senator Max Baucus and others to ensure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of taxes.  The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act will close loop holes, strengthen detection and investigation capabilities, stiffen penalties, and toughen requirements.

ADA Counsel and noted expert on offshore tax evasion Jack Blum said: “The practice of offshore tax evasion costs the Treasury $100 billion each year and is an affront to honest Americans.  Tax cheats are burning a hole in the budget that hardworking Americans are forced to fill.  We are pleased to see Senator Baucus addressing this issue and urge him to strengthen his legislation with provisions like those in the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.” 

ADAction:  Send your Senators an email urging them to support the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act and thank President Obama for taking on tax cheats!

ADA Research

On the Road to Tax Fairness, by Mary Von Euler and Woodrow Ginsburg (2009)

Common Sense Tax Fairness, by Mary Von Euler and Woodrow Ginsburg (2008)

Financing Government in the 21st Century, by Max Sawicky (2007)

Policy Brief - The Republican Tax Legacy

Related Issues

Balanced Budget Amendment