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Presentation to the
National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices
December 8, 2021
Kathleen Burke, John McClelland, and Jennifer Shand
Tax Analysis Division
CBO’s Projections of
Tax Revenues
For more information about the NALFO Fall Programming Series 2021 and this webinar, see https://tinyurl.com/yckwunj9.
1
The Congressional Budget Office
2
CBO provides the Congress with objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses of
legislative proposals and of budgetary and economic issues to support the
Congressional budget process.
CBO’s Role
3
CBO is:
▪ Advisory,
▪ Objective,
▪ Nonpartisan,
▪ Responsive, and
▪ Transparent.
Some Key Characteristics of CBO
4
CBO’s Process for Developing the
Budget Baseline
5
The baseline is a detailed projection for the current year and the ensuing 10 years of
federal spending, revenues, net spending for interest, and resulting deficits or surpluses.
The baseline:
▪ Is based on CBO’s economic forecast;
▪ Reflects the assumption that current laws governing federal taxes and spending
generally remain in place;
▪ Is not a forecast of future budgetary outcomes, which depend on future Congressional
action and other factors;
▪ Is generally provided two or three times a year; and
▪ Is reported in CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook.
The Budget Baseline
6
The baseline is a benchmark for measuring the budgetary effects of proposed
changes in federal revenues and mandatory spending.
It serves as the basis for:
▪ Cost estimates for proposed legislation,
▪ CBO’s analyses of the President’s annual budget,
▪ CBO’s report describing policy options that would reduce the deficit,
▪ Other reports (including those describing CBO’s long-term budget projections), and
▪ Assessments of multiyear budget trends.
The baseline is often a starting point for budget resolutions.
How CBO and the Congress Use the Baseline
7
Updates to the baseline begin with a thorough analysis of prior-year revenue
collections for each revenue source.
When it is appropriate to do so, CBO uses historical patterns and experience to
develop projections.
The internal review process includes an assessment of the quality of past
projections to identify opportunities to refine methods and improve the accuracy
of projections.
CBO solicits input from program experts at federal agencies and compares its
projections with those prepared by others.
How CBO Makes Its Baseline Projections as Accurate as Possible
8
All projections are subject to some degree of uncertainty about how closely they
will correspond to actual outcomes.
Projections for years further in the future are more uncertain.
The amount of uncertainty can vary depending on many factors, including data
quality, possible administrative actions, behavioral responses to changes in
policies, and the variability of underlying factors.
CBO’s analysts often test the sensitivity of their projections to identify the range
of possible outcomes for those projections.
CBO’s goal is to develop estimates that are near the middle of the range of
possible outcomes.
How CBO Addresses the Uncertainty of Its Baseline Projections
9
CBO’s Process for Developing the
Baseline Projections of Revenues
10
The baseline includes projections for each source of revenues.
▪ The largest share (50 percent) of total revenues is from individual income taxes, which
amounted to $2 trillion in 2021.
▪ Corporate income taxes constituted 9 percent of total revenues in 2021.
The baseline reflects the assumption that current laws governing federal taxes generally remain
in place.
▪ For example, reductions in the individual income tax are assumed to expire as scheduled
at the end of 2025.
▪ There is an exception: Excise taxes dedicated to trust funds are extended at current rates.
The baseline is sensitive to economic projections.
The baseline tends to increase as a percentage of gross domestic product over time.
The Baseline Projections of Revenues
11
CBO uses estimates of tax legislation produced by the staff of the Joint
Committee on Taxation (JCT).
▪ The estimates are microdynamic (that is, they do not reflect changes in
broad economic variables) and are sometimes called “conventional
estimates.”
▪ The estimates hold gross national product as a fixed amount.
Once the associated legislation has been enacted, JCT’s estimates are reflected
in CBO’s baseline.
CBO then updates its economic projections to reflect any effects of legislation on
the economy and the subsequent feedback effects on the budget.
How CBO Updates the Baseline to Account for Enacted Legislation
12
See Congressional Budget Office, An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2021 to 2031 (July 2021), p. 2, www.cbo.gov/publication/57218.
An Example of CBO’s Projections of Revenues, From July 2021
Table 1.
CBO’s Baseline Budget Projection, by Category
Total
Actual,
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
2022–
2026
2022–
2031
In Billions of Dollars
Revenues
Individual income taxes 1,609 1,952 2,328 2,334 2,353 2,383 2,586 2,792 2,871 2,979 3,091 3,209 11,984 26,926
Payroll taxes 1,310 1,346 1,391 1,504 1,550 1,588 1,644 1,703 1,768 1,834 1,900 1,968 7,677 16,849
Corporate income taxes 212 238 317 379 390 402 401 391 393 393 393 397 1,889 3,857
Other 291 306 355 381 378 359 354 367 364 366 371 382 1,827 3,676
Total 3,421 3,842 4,390 4,597 4,671 4,734 4,984 5,253 5,396 5,572 5,754 5,957 23,376 51,308
On-budget 2,456 2,863 3,401 3,513 3,542 3,566 3,773 3,995 4,091 4,218 4,352 4,506 17,796 38,957
Off-budget  965 979 989 1,085 1,128 1,168 1,211 1,258 1,306 1,354 1,402 1,451 5,581 12,351
13
a. For a more detailed description of the microsimulation tax model, see Congressional Budget Office, “An Overview of CBO’s Microsimulation Tax Model” (June 2018),
www.cbo.gov/publication/54096.
How CBO Develops the Baseline Projections of Revenues From
Individual Income Taxes
Microsimulation
Tax Model a
Microsimulation
modeling applies
the rules of the
tax system to
each member of
a representative
sample of
taxpayers.
Projections of
Tax Liability
Statistics of Income (SOI)
Individual Income Tax File
These tax return data are the
primary data used in the
microsimulation tax model.
Model of Receipts
The model reconciles
the projections of tax
liability with
projections of
collections on the
basis of recent data
on individual income
tax payments.
Projections
of Revenues
(Baseline)
Projections of the Tax Base
On the basis of its economic
forecasts, CBO projects:
- Population,
- Employment,
- Presence of income,
- Income totals, and
- Income distribution.
14
See Congressional Budget Office, “Table 7. Relation of NIPA Corporate Profits to Income Subject to Tax Under the Corporate Income Tax in CBO’s July 2021 Baseline” (supplemental
material for An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2021 to 2031, July 2021), www.cbo.gov/system/files/2021-07/51138-2021-07-revenueprojections.xlsx.
The baseline relates CBO’s economic projections to federal corporate income tax
receipts, assuming no changes to current laws governing taxes and spending.
Data sources include the national income and product accounts produced by the
Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis; the Internal Revenue
Service's Statistics of Income; and monthly statements from the Treasury.
How CBO Develops the Baseline Projections of Revenues From
Corporate Income Taxes
CBO’s Projections of
Calendar-Year Economic
Activity Accruing to the
Corporate Sector
Projections of Taxable
Income for Firms Subject
to the Corporate Tax
Projections of
Revenues (Baseline),
by Fiscal Year
15
▪ Congressional Budget Office, How CBO Prepares Baseline Budget Projections
(February 2018), www.cbo.gov/publication/53532.
▪ Congressional Budget Office, An Evaluation of CBO’s Past Revenue
Projections (August 2020), www.cbo.gov/publication/56499.
▪ Congressional Budget Office, The Accuracy of CBO’s Budget Projections for
Fiscal Year 2020 (December 2020), www.cbo.gov/publication/56885.
▪ Congressional Budget Office, Improving CBO's Methodology for Projecting
Individual Income Tax Revenues (February 2011),
www.cbo.gov/publication/22007.
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CBO’s Projections of Tax Revenues

  • 1. Presentation to the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices December 8, 2021 Kathleen Burke, John McClelland, and Jennifer Shand Tax Analysis Division CBO’s Projections of Tax Revenues For more information about the NALFO Fall Programming Series 2021 and this webinar, see https://tinyurl.com/yckwunj9.
  • 3. 2 CBO provides the Congress with objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses of legislative proposals and of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process. CBO’s Role
  • 4. 3 CBO is: ▪ Advisory, ▪ Objective, ▪ Nonpartisan, ▪ Responsive, and ▪ Transparent. Some Key Characteristics of CBO
  • 5. 4 CBO’s Process for Developing the Budget Baseline
  • 6. 5 The baseline is a detailed projection for the current year and the ensuing 10 years of federal spending, revenues, net spending for interest, and resulting deficits or surpluses. The baseline: ▪ Is based on CBO’s economic forecast; ▪ Reflects the assumption that current laws governing federal taxes and spending generally remain in place; ▪ Is not a forecast of future budgetary outcomes, which depend on future Congressional action and other factors; ▪ Is generally provided two or three times a year; and ▪ Is reported in CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook. The Budget Baseline
  • 7. 6 The baseline is a benchmark for measuring the budgetary effects of proposed changes in federal revenues and mandatory spending. It serves as the basis for: ▪ Cost estimates for proposed legislation, ▪ CBO’s analyses of the President’s annual budget, ▪ CBO’s report describing policy options that would reduce the deficit, ▪ Other reports (including those describing CBO’s long-term budget projections), and ▪ Assessments of multiyear budget trends. The baseline is often a starting point for budget resolutions. How CBO and the Congress Use the Baseline
  • 8. 7 Updates to the baseline begin with a thorough analysis of prior-year revenue collections for each revenue source. When it is appropriate to do so, CBO uses historical patterns and experience to develop projections. The internal review process includes an assessment of the quality of past projections to identify opportunities to refine methods and improve the accuracy of projections. CBO solicits input from program experts at federal agencies and compares its projections with those prepared by others. How CBO Makes Its Baseline Projections as Accurate as Possible
  • 9. 8 All projections are subject to some degree of uncertainty about how closely they will correspond to actual outcomes. Projections for years further in the future are more uncertain. The amount of uncertainty can vary depending on many factors, including data quality, possible administrative actions, behavioral responses to changes in policies, and the variability of underlying factors. CBO’s analysts often test the sensitivity of their projections to identify the range of possible outcomes for those projections. CBO’s goal is to develop estimates that are near the middle of the range of possible outcomes. How CBO Addresses the Uncertainty of Its Baseline Projections
  • 10. 9 CBO’s Process for Developing the Baseline Projections of Revenues
  • 11. 10 The baseline includes projections for each source of revenues. ▪ The largest share (50 percent) of total revenues is from individual income taxes, which amounted to $2 trillion in 2021. ▪ Corporate income taxes constituted 9 percent of total revenues in 2021. The baseline reflects the assumption that current laws governing federal taxes generally remain in place. ▪ For example, reductions in the individual income tax are assumed to expire as scheduled at the end of 2025. ▪ There is an exception: Excise taxes dedicated to trust funds are extended at current rates. The baseline is sensitive to economic projections. The baseline tends to increase as a percentage of gross domestic product over time. The Baseline Projections of Revenues
  • 12. 11 CBO uses estimates of tax legislation produced by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). ▪ The estimates are microdynamic (that is, they do not reflect changes in broad economic variables) and are sometimes called “conventional estimates.” ▪ The estimates hold gross national product as a fixed amount. Once the associated legislation has been enacted, JCT’s estimates are reflected in CBO’s baseline. CBO then updates its economic projections to reflect any effects of legislation on the economy and the subsequent feedback effects on the budget. How CBO Updates the Baseline to Account for Enacted Legislation
  • 13. 12 See Congressional Budget Office, An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2021 to 2031 (July 2021), p. 2, www.cbo.gov/publication/57218. An Example of CBO’s Projections of Revenues, From July 2021 Table 1. CBO’s Baseline Budget Projection, by Category Total Actual, 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2022– 2026 2022– 2031 In Billions of Dollars Revenues Individual income taxes 1,609 1,952 2,328 2,334 2,353 2,383 2,586 2,792 2,871 2,979 3,091 3,209 11,984 26,926 Payroll taxes 1,310 1,346 1,391 1,504 1,550 1,588 1,644 1,703 1,768 1,834 1,900 1,968 7,677 16,849 Corporate income taxes 212 238 317 379 390 402 401 391 393 393 393 397 1,889 3,857 Other 291 306 355 381 378 359 354 367 364 366 371 382 1,827 3,676 Total 3,421 3,842 4,390 4,597 4,671 4,734 4,984 5,253 5,396 5,572 5,754 5,957 23,376 51,308 On-budget 2,456 2,863 3,401 3,513 3,542 3,566 3,773 3,995 4,091 4,218 4,352 4,506 17,796 38,957 Off-budget  965 979 989 1,085 1,128 1,168 1,211 1,258 1,306 1,354 1,402 1,451 5,581 12,351
  • 14. 13 a. For a more detailed description of the microsimulation tax model, see Congressional Budget Office, “An Overview of CBO’s Microsimulation Tax Model” (June 2018), www.cbo.gov/publication/54096. How CBO Develops the Baseline Projections of Revenues From Individual Income Taxes Microsimulation Tax Model a Microsimulation modeling applies the rules of the tax system to each member of a representative sample of taxpayers. Projections of Tax Liability Statistics of Income (SOI) Individual Income Tax File These tax return data are the primary data used in the microsimulation tax model. Model of Receipts The model reconciles the projections of tax liability with projections of collections on the basis of recent data on individual income tax payments. Projections of Revenues (Baseline) Projections of the Tax Base On the basis of its economic forecasts, CBO projects: - Population, - Employment, - Presence of income, - Income totals, and - Income distribution.
  • 15. 14 See Congressional Budget Office, “Table 7. Relation of NIPA Corporate Profits to Income Subject to Tax Under the Corporate Income Tax in CBO’s July 2021 Baseline” (supplemental material for An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2021 to 2031, July 2021), www.cbo.gov/system/files/2021-07/51138-2021-07-revenueprojections.xlsx. The baseline relates CBO’s economic projections to federal corporate income tax receipts, assuming no changes to current laws governing taxes and spending. Data sources include the national income and product accounts produced by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis; the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income; and monthly statements from the Treasury. How CBO Develops the Baseline Projections of Revenues From Corporate Income Taxes CBO’s Projections of Calendar-Year Economic Activity Accruing to the Corporate Sector Projections of Taxable Income for Firms Subject to the Corporate Tax Projections of Revenues (Baseline), by Fiscal Year
  • 16. 15 ▪ Congressional Budget Office, How CBO Prepares Baseline Budget Projections (February 2018), www.cbo.gov/publication/53532. ▪ Congressional Budget Office, An Evaluation of CBO’s Past Revenue Projections (August 2020), www.cbo.gov/publication/56499. ▪ Congressional Budget Office, The Accuracy of CBO’s Budget Projections for Fiscal Year 2020 (December 2020), www.cbo.gov/publication/56885. ▪ Congressional Budget Office, Improving CBO's Methodology for Projecting Individual Income Tax Revenues (February 2011), www.cbo.gov/publication/22007. Related Publications