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total incomes increase, total incomes typically increase at a much faster rate than taxable purchases. Thus, the gap between taxable purchases and total income widens as total income increases. The end result is that the effective tax rates for those with a greater ability to pay are lower than those taxpayers with a lesser ability to pay. Regressive tax rate structures are generally considered not to satisfy vertical equity (unless one is a strong advocate of the belief that those with a greater ability to pay simply should be paying a higher tax, albeit at a lower rate). In sum, evaluating vertical equity in terms of effective tax rates may be much more informative than simply an evaluation of tax rate structures.1-9
Chapter 01 - An Introduction to Tax(31)[LO4, LO5] Compare the federal income tax to sales taxes using the “certainty” criterion.Certainty means that taxpayers should be able to determine when to pay the tax, where to pay the tax, and how to determine the tax. It is relatively easy to determine when and where to pay the federal income tax and sales taxes. For example, individual federal income tax returns and the remaining balance of taxes owed must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service each year on or before April 15th (or the first business day following April 15th). Likewise, sales taxes are paid to retailers when items are purchased, and property taxes are typically paid annually to local governments. The ease of “how to determine the tax,” however, varies by tax system. Sales taxes are determined with relative ease – i.e., they are based on the value of taxable purchases. In contrast, income taxes are often criticized as being complex. What are taxable/nontaxable forms of income? What are deductible/nondeductible expenses? When should income or expense be reported? For many taxpayers (e.g., wage earners with few investments), the answers to these questions are straightforward. For other taxpayers (e.g., business owners, individuals with a lot of investments), the answers to these questions are nontrivial. Constant tax law changes enacted by Congress also add to the difficulty in determining the proper amount of income tax to pay. These changes can make it difficult to determine a taxpayer’s current tax liability much less plan for the future.