Sunsets in the Tax Code

9 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2003


Sunsets - or expiring provisions - have long been a feature of the tax code, but they changed dramatically in character and magnitude in recent years as policy makers aimed to hide the costs of recent tax cuts. Removing all the sunsets in the tax code would reduce revenue by almost $2 trillion over the next decade, more than the entire legislated cost of the 2001, 2002, and 2003 tax cuts. The revenue loss in 2013 alone would be $430 billion, or 2.4 percent of GDP going forward. This exceeds the 75-year actuarial shortfalls in the social security and medicare trust funds combined. The best way to prevent the removal of existing sunsets would be to re-instate the pay-as-you-go rules that required that mandatory spending increases or tax cuts be financed by other changes in taxes or spending.

Keywords: sunsets, tax code, revenue loss, GDP

JEL Classification: H0, H2

Suggested Citation

Gale, William G., Sunsets in the Tax Code. Tax Notes, June 9, 2003. Available at SSRN: or

William G. Gale (Contact Author)

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-797-6148 (Phone)
202-797-6181 (Fax)

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