Revenue Act of 1964

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The United States Revenue Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88–272), also known as the Tax Reduction Act, was a bipartisan tax cut bill signed by President Lyndon Johnson on February 26, 1964. Individual income tax rates were cut across the board by approximately 20%. In addition to individual income tax cuts, the act slightly reduced corporate tax rates and introduced a minimum standard deduction.[1]

Summary of provisions[edit]

The Office of Tax Analysis of the United States Department of the Treasury summarized the tax changes as follows:[2]

  • reduced top marginal rate (on income over $100,000, roughly $770,000 in 2015 dollars, for individuals; and over $180,000; roughly $1,380,000 in 2015 dollars, for heads of households) from 91% to 70%
  • reduced corporate tax rate from 52% to 48%
  • phased-in acceleration of corporate estimated tax payments (through 1970)
  • created minimum standard deduction of $300 + $100/exemption (total $1,000 max)

History and effects[edit]

President John F. Kennedy brought up the issue of tax reduction in his 1963 State of the Union address. His initial plan called for a $13.5 billion tax cut through a reduction of the top income tax rate from 91% to 65%, reduction of the bottom rate from 20% to 14%, and a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 52% to 47%. The first attempt at passing the tax cuts was rejected by Congress in 1963. Conservatives revolted at giving Kennedy a key legislative victory before the election of 1964.[3]

Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, and was succeeded by Lyndon Johnson. Johnson was able to achieve Kennedy's goal of a tax cut in exchange for promising a budget not to exceed $100 billion in 1965. The Revenue Act of 1964 emerged from Congress and was signed by Johnson on February 26, 1964.[1][4]

The stated goals of the tax cuts were to raise personal incomes, increase consumption, and increase capital investments. Evidence shows that these goals were exceeded by large degree with the combination of tax cuts and domestic spending programs President Johnson advocated, such as Medicare.[4] Unemployment fell from 5.2% in 1964 to 4.5% in 1965, and fell to 3.8% in 1966.[4][5] Initial estimates predicted a loss of revenue as a result of the tax cuts, however, tax revenue increased in 1964 and 1965.[4][6]


  1. ^ a b American Presidency Project. "Radio and Television Remarks Upon Signing the Tax Bill". Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  2. ^ Office of Tax Analysis (2003). "Revenue Effects of Major Tax Bills" (PDF). United States Department of the Treasury. Working Paper 81, page 12. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  3. ^ Ippolito, Dennis (2004). Why Budgets Matter: Budget Policy and American Politics. Penn State Press. pp. 173–175. ISBN 0-271-02260-4.
  4. ^ a b c d Dolan, Chris; Frendreis, John.; Tatalovich, Raymond (2008). The Presidency and Economic Policy. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 172–176. ISBN 0-7425-4729-9.
  5. ^ "Unemployment Rates for Years 1948-2009". United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  6. ^ FY 2011 Budget of the United States Government: Historic Tables. 2010. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-16-084797-4.

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