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Those Dirty Rotten Taxes: The Tax Revolts that Built America Hardcover – March 18, 1998

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press (March 18, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684843943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684843940
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,236,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Adams, an independent scholar affiliated with the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., has produced a breezy account of tax revolt in American history, from the Stamp Act to the present day. Although there is scarce opportunity in the book's 242 pages to delve into the details of such pivotal events in early American history as Shay's Rebellion and the collapse of the Federalist Party, Adams does consistently manage to choose those details which best support his thesis that "excessive" taxation is a form of government tyranny. This leads to interesting interpretations of history such as his sympathetic description of the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan as an underground resistance movement against federal tax collectors. Adams also provides a full litany of charges of present-day assaults on liberty by the IRS. There is throughout a certain sense of preaching to the choir, quite understandable given the subject matter. However, those who pick up the book not thoroughly convinced that taxes are at best a necessary evil might welcome more history and less rhetoric.

From Library Journal

In his dedication to Chairman Bill Archer of the House Ways and Means Committee, Adams (For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on Civilization, LJ 3/1/93), a Washington tax consultant, boldly declares his hostility to the prevailing U.S. income tax system. Adams divides U.S. history into five periods, running from Colonial times through the Cold War, and in every segment he argues that excessive taxation constitutes the root cause of all the wars, rebellions, and social turmoil that have beset the American people. The author laments the passing of the concepts of limited government in favor of a massive federal bureaucracy, governmental paternalism, supposedly high taxes, and runaway deficit spending. Adams scarcely conceals his sympathy for this country's long line of tax dodgers and resisters, and observes with equal satisfaction that today America's affluent evaders employ far less violent and more effective means to confound the IRS. A highly partisan yet provocative history of the U.S. tax system and its influence on the American people; recommended for public and academic libraries.?John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. W. MacKenzie on April 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
Those Dirty Rotten Taxes is, as the title implies, polemical in nature. Adams has strong views and does not shy from expressing them. Adams claims that excessive taxation was central to American history. There is much truth to this claim. The American War of Independence was driven largely by taxation, but not merely the absolute level. Taxes had been higher in colonial America, the colonists objected to arbitrary taxation without representation, not just the absolute level of taxation. That being said, Adams is still on to something important. Unjust taxation does serve to motivate political action. Tax revolts became less common and more tame with the passage of time precisely because many Americans have come to accept and even embrace our current tax system. That is, many Americans need to be shaken out of their complacency and delusions. The hard hitting prose of Those Dirty Rotten Taxes should be effective in its capacity to motivate the complacent. Delusional leftists are harder to deal with, as they tend to be dogmatic, if not intellectually dishonest. Be that as it may, Those Dirty Rotten Taxes is great as a polemical history of American taxation.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Carey VINE VOICE on May 25, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Author Charles Adams is a former lecturer at UCLA and a tax consultant with the CATO Institute, a Washington D.C. Think Tank. He has written many publications on the subject of taxes, with most all of them attacking the present system of income tax and discussing ways to improve the system of internal revenue collection.

This book is mostly a lesson in history and it explains in detail how certain taxes came into being and how the American people reacted. Much of the coverage here is old news, like the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, and the protests that led to the American Revolution. But then there are other taxes that are not so well- known, like the tariffs that led to the Civil War in the 1800's. Most people think the Civil War was fought over slavery, but this was only one reason among many. Adams shows how Lincoln deliberately used taxes to antagonize the South, leading ultimately to war, which was exactly what he wanted.

The income tax is the one that most Americans know best, because it's the tax that everyone pays at present. Woodrow Wilson was president when the income tax became law. Officials who passed the tax swore that it would never be greater than a few percentage points and it would never be levied against anyone except the very wealthy. Of course, as everyone knows, this was a blatant lie to sell the plan to the states and to the general public. Once the ability to tax was in place, it was only a matter of a few years before it expanded and grew to several times the original level. Adams talks at length about the deceptions used by politicians to get this and other taxes enacted.

Adams spends most of the book talking about the income tax and possible alternatives to the tax. One part of the book is titled "The tyranny of the income tax, 1913 to 199?".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is for general reading and should not be confused with a scholarly history of taxation. It is a series of chapters that are brief retellings of various historical incidents involving citizens resisting taxation in various ways or citizens being made to suffer through taxation programs. These tellings do have a point of view and historians may find some of them rather blunt and ignoring certain subtleties that might mitigate some of the author's point of view. However, in total the book does make its point that it is up to the citizens to hold the government responsible for its spending and the taxation it levies to pay for that spending.

While I abhor taxation beyond what is absolutely necessary, I think all the arguments about taxes actually function to distract us from the real thing we should be debating and that is government spending. The problem is that the modern state has so many of us on the receiving end of this or that program that we will resist any program that decreases the increase in our program's spending (let alone any actual cuts). So, when someone proposes ANY cut in spending, those being cut raise a loud resistance effort to defeat it. This is why we try and starve the government by cutting taxes - the hope being that the starved beast will not be able to increase the handouts without limit.

Anyway, this can be an entertaining read. There is a list for further reading and an index. Just don't take everything in here as gospel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles Adams has some definite, perhaps you might even call them extreme views on taxes. In this book he talks about taxes down through American history from the Whiskey Rebellion down through how the modern tax structure which has been developed down through the centuries to be something that the public will put up with and not (quite) revolt.

Two particular aspects were enjoyable to me. One was how the constitution says taxes should be equal They graduated tax where rich are taxed more is obviously not equal. But since it is popular to tax the rich, no revolt of the masses. Of course the rich don't pay the tax rate the nominally stated in the law. They get loopholes as a result of political contributions. Obama and Romney, as best I remember paid about 22%, a long way from the nominal tax rate for their income -- good tax accountants and lawyers.

Second was how politicians think that simply raising the tax rate will generate more revenue, when it actually generates less. The higher the taxes, the more money spent on: good tax accountants and lawyers, the underground or cash economy, moving overseas (maybe physically moving, or just moving your money).
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