Photo: Gamma Man / flickr
The federal government provides a wide array of special exemptions, credits and deductions that amount to more than a $1.1 trillion a year windfall benefiting most Americans.They are designed to reward or encourage certain behaviour, such as buying a home, saving for retirement, encouraging employers to provide health insurance, and other goals.
Most of them have large built-in constituencies that make them politically difficult to change or eliminate.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says he would target some of these so-called tax expenditures for elimination to help offset the cost of his proposed across-the-board tax rate cuts. But neither Romney nor other Republican leaders have specified which of these tax breaks they would be willing to eliminate to advance their plans for major tax reform.
Here is a list of the 10 most popular and expensive tax expenditures, along with the Office of Management and Budget estimates of their cost to the Treasury in lost revenues for fiscal 2012:
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