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Federal Taxation in America: A Short History (Woodrow Wilson Center Press) 2nd Edition
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The book really goes into detail with the start of the Civil War when the government had to seriously raise funds for the war effort. This included the first (albeit temporary) federal income tax.
From there the book continues on through different "tax regimes" when major changes in policy occurred during World War I and the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, with the New Deal and World War II.
About half of the book is dedicated to a more modern history. This starts with the Reagan presidency, including the landmark Tax Reform Act of 1986, and continues through the presidencies of Bush, Sr., Clinton, and the first term of George W. Bush.
All in all, this was a relatively interesting look at federal taxation history. This book is not for everyone. There is a lot of discussion with numbers regarding tax brackets, tax rates, deficits, and the like. The author also looks at some of the politics that led to the enactment of various revenue acts. I would only recommend this book to those interested in such a niche subject.
This began the first phase of Federal taxation which lasted until World War I. Phase 2 lasted until World War II. And the basic structure of taxes established then lasted until Reagan in 1980. We are now in a new phase with the structure getting gradually changed under George W. Bush.
While the news media have been spending almost all their time on things like Iraq, behind the scenes the fundamental basic taxing structure is being debated between the President and Congress. Still being called the same things, like income tax, the income tax may take on more of the attributes of a tax on consumption. Widely attacked by the Democrats, under the Bush tax program, the richest 5 percent of taxpayers account for 56 percnt of income tax collections (up from 42% in 1986). And the deficit has increased to about 4.2%, well under the almost 6% of the Reagan era. It will be very interesting to see what happens next.
Well written, easy to understand, this is a book that goes far beyond the 30 second sound bites so popular on today's television news to provide an explanation on how the taxing structure of the United States got where it is, and some good thoughts on where it is going.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very informative and unbiased, though the author carries no brief on behalf of the New Deal. This historical survey corrects many misconceptions about federal taxation in the... Read morePublished on July 23, 2014 by W. J. Reedy
Writing on New Year's 2013, this whole "fiscal cliff" mess and the hullabaloo with the "Buffett rule" on taxing the wealthy got me curious about federal taxation in America. Read morePublished on January 18, 2013 by T. Graczewski