In general, the United States federal income tax is progressive, as rates of tax generally increase as taxable income increases, at least with respect to individuals that earn wage income. As a group, the lowest earning workers, especially those with dependents, pay no income taxes and may actually receive a small subsidy from the federal government (from child credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit).

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  • In general, the United States federal income tax is progressive, as rates of tax generally increase as taxable income increases, at least with respect to individuals that earn wage income. As a group, the lowest earning workers, especially those with dependents, pay no income taxes and may actually receive a small subsidy from the federal government (from child credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit). "Progressivity" as it pertains to tax is usually defined as meaning that the higher a person's level of income, the higher a tax rate that person pays. In the mid-twentieth century, marginal tax rates (the rate applied to the last bit of income) in the United States and United Kingdom exceeded 90%. As recently as the late 1970s, the top marginal tax rate in the U.S. was 70%. In the words of Piketty and Saez, "... the progressivity of the U.S. federal tax system at the top of the income distribution has declined dramatically since the 1960s". They continue, "... the most dramatic changes in federal tax system progressivity almost always take place within the top 1 percent of income earners, with relatively small changes occurring below the top percentile." Progressivity, then, is a complex topic which does not lend itself to simple analyses. Given the "flattening" of tax burden that occurred in the early 1980s, many commentators note that the general structure of the U.S. tax system has begun to resemble a partial consumption tax regime. (en)
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  • In general, the United States federal income tax is progressive, as rates of tax generally increase as taxable income increases, at least with respect to individuals that earn wage income. As a group, the lowest earning workers, especially those with dependents, pay no income taxes and may actually receive a small subsidy from the federal government (from child credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit). (en)
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  • Progressivity in United States income tax (en)
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