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Measuring Poverty: A New Approach
payroll taxes and imputes annual tax payment amounts to the CPS records (see Bureau of the Census, 1992a; Nelson and Green, 1986).
Generally, SIPP includes twice for each panel (in the summer or fall period) a topical module that asks about tax payments for the previous year. Questions on tax filing status, number of exemptions, type of form filed (joint, single, etc.), and schedules filed (e.g., Schedule A) are answered by more than 90 percent of respondents. However, questions on adjusted gross income, itemized deductions, tax credits, and net tax liability have high nonresponse rates, primarily because respondents are asked to produce their tax forms and use them as the basis for answers to these questions, but only about one-third do so. In addition, there are nonresponse rates of 7 to 14 percent for specific items for those people who do use their tax forms to respond (Bureau of the Census, no date(a)). The Census Bureau has work in progress to develop a tax estimation model for SIPP similar to the one used for the March CPS. The SIPP tax information, even with quality problems, should help in the development of a reliable model.
Nonmedical In-Kind Benefits
The March CPS asks about the benefits a household received the previous year from the School Lunch Program (how many children in the household received free or reduced-price lunches during previous year); housing assistance (whether living in public housing or receiving rent subsidy); the Food Stamp Program (how many people were covered in prior year, how many months stamps were received, and the total value of stamps for the prior year); and energy assistance (how much money was received since previous October).
SIPP obtains considerably more detailed information: monthly information on recipiency and benefit amounts for food stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); information every 4 months about energy assistance, school lunch, and school breakfast; and information twice a panel about public housing and subsidized housing.
The March CPS asks which household members were covered during the previous year by Medicare; Medicaid; Civilian Health and Medical Programs of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), Civilian Health and Medical Programs for the Veterans' Administration (CHAMPVA), or military health care; and private health insurance. For the last, questions are asked about whether the coverage was in a plan in one's own name offered by a current or former employer or union; whether the employer or union paid for all or some of the costs; and who else in the household was covered under the plan. Separate questions are also asked about how many children under age 15 were covered during the prior year by Medicare or Medicaid, another health insurance plan, or by the insurance plan of someone not residing in the household.