Tax Foundation

The Tax Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank founded in 1937 that collects data and publishes research studies on tax policies at the federal and state levels. The organization is broken into three primary areas of research which are the Center for Federal Fiscal Policy, The Center for State Fiscal Policy and the Center for Legal Reform. The group is known for its annual reports such as "Facts & Figures: How Does Your State Compare" which was first produced in 1941 and Tax Freedom Day for the United States, which it has produced since the early 1970s.

The Foundation's stated mission is to "educate taxpayers about sound tax policy and the size of the tax burden borne by Americans at all levels of government". The Tax Foundation is organized as 501(c)3 non-profit educational and research organization. Though it describes itself as a nonpartisan tax research group, it has been described as pro-business and conservative-leaning and has ties to various conservative groups.

Goals and principles

Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation states that their research is guided by what they call the principles of sound tax policy: simplicity, transparency, neutrality, stability, no retroactivity, broad bases and low rates.

Tax Foundation research is generally critical of tax increases, high business taxes, excise taxes, tax preferences for the housing industry, and use of the tax code for "picking winners and losers". They have spoken favorably of efforts to balance the federal budget with tax reform and significant spending cuts, such as the Bowles-Simpson plan, the Ryan Plan, and the Wyden-Coats plan.


Since 2013, the Tax Foundation has offered guidance to same sex married couples filing income taxes at the state level, where local laws recognizing same-sex marriage can vary considerably.


The Tax Foundation was organized on December 5, 1937 in New York City by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., Chairman of the General Motors Corporation; Donaldson Brown, GM Financial Vice President; William S. Farish, President of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Exxon); and Lewis H. Brown, President of Johns-Manville Corporation, who later became the first Chairman of the Board of The Tax Foundation. The stated goal of the organization was "to monitor the tax and spending policies of government agencies". Its offices were located at 50 Rockefeller Plaza and later 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

The Tax Foundation’s first project was a successful effort to stop a tax increase in Westchester County, New York, where they provided research and analysis (including an "Expenditure Survey” of state spending) to local activists. By 1943, the Tax Foundation had helped set up taxpayers associations and expenditure councils in 35 states.

During World War II, Tax Foundation research emphasized restraining government spending domestically to finance wartime expenditures. In 1948, the Tax Foundation opened an office in Washington, D.C., and in 1978 relocated there completely. Its research and analysis has historically emphasized publicizing federal and state financial information, arguing against the use of tax systems for "social engineering," and urging "broad bases and low rates" tax reform.

Beginning in 1990, the Tax Foundation "operate[d] as a separate unit" of Citizens for a Sound Economy. By July 1991, the Tax Foundation was again operating as "an independent 501(c)(3) organization".

Since 2009, The Tax Foundation’s offices have been located in the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. In 2015, the Tax Foundation left the National Press Building.

Board of directors


The Tax Foundation accepts grants from foundations, corporations, and individuals. They do not solicit or accept funds from government sources. The Tax Foundation has earned a 3 out of 4 star financial rating and 4 out of 4 star accountability and transparency rating from Charity Navigator.

The Tax Foundation has received funding from ExxonMobil and from conservative political groups such as the Koch Family Foundations, the Earhart Foundation, and Citizens for a Sound Economy.


The Tax Foundation's annual study that calculate Tax Freedom Days in the United States has been criticized by other think tanks, such as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), citing repeated "methodological errors" and "reliance on early projections without hard data." CBPP has also criticized other reports by the Tax Foundation, and in turn the Tax Foundation has responded or criticized CBPP reports. The two groups have some areas of agreement, such as opposition to most tax expenditures and sales tax holidays.

US economist Paul Krugman has characterised the Tax Foundation as "not a reliable source" while criticizing a report by the Tax Foundation comparing corporate tax rates in the United States to those in other countries. Krugman has also accused the Tax Foundation of "deliberate fraud" in connection with a report it issued concerning the American Jobs Act.

See also

  • Americans For Fair Taxation
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • Brookings Institution
  • Cato Institute
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Citizens for Tax Justice
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Koch Family Foundations
  • National Taxpayers Union
  • Tax Policy Center
  • Urban Institute


External links

  • Tax Foundation website
  • Organizational Profile â€" National Center for Charitable Statistics (Urban Institute)
  • Annual report Forms 990 filed by Tax Foundation
  • Sterling Foundation Management, LLC

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