Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA)

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Paul Tracy

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Prior to starting InvestingAnswers, Paul founded and managed one of the most influential investment research firms in America, with more than 2 million monthly readers. While there, Paul authored and edited thousands of financial research briefs, was published on Nasdaq. com, Yahoo Finance, and dozens of other prominent media outlets, and appeared as a guest expert at prominent radio shows and i...

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Updated September 30, 2020

What is the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA)?

The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) became law on September 3, 1982. The TEFRA made it more difficult for individuals and corporations to reduce their tax liability.

How Does the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) Work?

Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced the bill, which had 12 co-sponsors, on November 13, 1981. TEFRA had four major objectives: improve tax compliance and collection, close certain tax loopholes, increase certain excise taxes and increase certain employment taxes.

More important to investors, TEFRA created a 10% withholding tax for dividends (which was then repealed by the Interest and Dividend Tax Compliance Act of 1983). TEFRA also removed some accelerated depreciation deductions for corporations, although the basic shortening of asset tax lives was left intact (which still favored companies from a tax perspective).

Why Does the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) Matter?

TEFRA raised taxes in an effort to repeal the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981.

During the Reagan administration, the rationale for a tax increase was to make tax evaders pay rather than raise taxes on everyone at a time when worries over the budget deficit were high. The tax increase was approximately 0.8% of GDP, or $37.5 billion per year. This created a controversy about whether TEFRA was one of the country's largest tax increases.

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