REPORT Health and Social ProgramsUnited States

Who Pays if We Raise the Social Security Payroll Tax Cap?


February 2017, Alan Barber and Cherrie Bucknor

Most Americans know that their earnings are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Not as many are aware that the amount of earnings subject to the tax, while subject to change, is capped at the same level for everyone, regardless of total earnings. This year, the maximum wage earnings subject to the payroll tax is $127,200. The cap on the Social Security payroll tax means that those with the highest earnings pay a lower rate.

Using Census Bureau data from the latest American Community Survey (ACS), this issue brief updates previous CEPR research to determine how many people would be affected if the payroll tax cap were raised or eliminated.

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