A brief lesson on the “regressive” effects of a sales tax (and other ‘regressive’ taxation techniques which lead to poorer people paying higher percentage of incomes in taxes than those more fortunate in America:

A lesson on Regressive taxation brought to you by several anonymous contributors at Wikipedia (see whole article here), the world’s leading collaborative encyclopedia:

“A regressive tax is a tax imposed in such a manner that the effective tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases.[1][2][3][4] In simple terms, it imposes a greater burden (relative to resources) on the poor than on the rich. “Regressive” describes a distribution effect on income or expenditure, refering to the way the rate progresses from high to low. It can be applied to individual taxes or to a tax system as a whole; a year, multi-year, or lifetime. Regressive taxes attempt to reduce the tax incidence of people with higher ability-to-pay, as they shift the incidence disproportionately to those with lower ability-to-pay.

A simplified illustration of a regressive tax on income (proportional on consumption) is as follows: If Jane has $10 and John has $5, a tax of $1 on a purchase would result in a different percentage of total income applied to taxation, 20% for John and 10% for Jane. Thus, a tax that is fixed to the value of the good/service (as with sales tax)(without exemptions or rebates) would likely, in effect, result in a higher burden of taxation to people with less money (depending on consumption level and timeline examined – year or lifetime).

The opposite of a regressive tax is a progressive tax, where the tax rate increases as the amount subject to taxation increases.[5][6][7][8] In between is a proportional tax, where the tax rate is fixed as the amount subject to taxation increases.

The term is frequently applied in reference to fixed taxes, where every person has to pay the same amount of money. The regressivity of a particular tax often depends on the propensity of the tax payers to engage in the taxed activity relative to their income. In other words, if the activity being taxed is more likely to be carried out by the poor and less likely to be carried out by the rich, then the tax may be considered regressive. To determine whether a tax is regressive, the income-elasticity of the good being taxed as well as the income-substitution effect must be considered.

A simplified illustration of a regressive tax on income (proportional on consumption) is as follows: If Jane has $10 and John has $5, a tax of $1 on a purchase would result in a different percentage of total income applied to taxation, 20% for John and 10% for Jane. Thus, a tax that is fixed to the value of the good/service (as with sales tax)(without exemptions or rebates) would likely, in effect, result in a higher burden of taxation to people with less money (depending on consumption level and timeline examined – year or lifetime).

A regressive tax system does not mean and likely would not result in low income earners paying more taxes than the wealthy, only that the effective tax rate relative to income or consumption would be a larger tax burden to low income earners.”

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One Response

  1. A growing number of people are “working poor”. That means they work full time but live in relative poverty because of low pay and high costs of living. If someone like this is victimized by an IRS wage levy the effects can be devastating. Unfortunately the IRS won’t go away. Fortunately there is reasonably priced help available. Get your hands on a copy of the DVD by Attorney Darrin Mish, “How to Get a Release From an IRS Wage Levy.”

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