According to the Tax Policy Center's findings, the common assumptions most people make about the plans of McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, and Obama, the Democrats' pick, are not wildly off-base.
McCain: The average taxpayer in every income group would see a lower tax bill, but high-income taxpayers would benefit more than everyone else.
Obama: High-income taxpayers would pay more in taxes, while everyone else's tax bill would be reduced. Those who benefit the most - in terms of reducing their taxes as a percentage of after-tax income - are in the lowest income groups.
Under both plans, all American taxpayers could pay a price for their tax cuts: a bigger deficit. The Tax Policy Center estimates that over 10 years, McCain's tax proposals could increase the national debt by as much as $4.5 trillion with interest, while Obama's could add as much as $3.3 trillion.
The reason: neither plan would raise the amount of revenue expected under current tax policy - which assumes all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire by 2011. And neither plan would raise enough to cover expected government costs during those 10 years.
"Distributionally, they're markedly different. But in terms of their impact on revenue, the two plans are not terribly different," said Roberton Williams, principal research associate at the Tax Policy Center and the former deputy assistant director for tax analysis at the Congressional Budget Office.