Learn where and when taxes originated and how they resemble taxes we have today. Understand how the American tax code developed from the beginning of the colonies. Learn about some of the weirder taxes throughout history, designed not just to raise revenue, but influence behavior too.
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Get answers to some of the tax policy questions we hear most often from taxpayers, businesses, and journalists. Learn everything from the basics of who pays taxes and the difference between credits and deductions, to how taxes impact the economy and what constitutes sound tax policy. Discover additional resources to explore each question and topic in more depth.
Learn about how taxes can influence human behavior through the power of incentives. See how different tax policies have impacted everything around us, including the buildings we live in, the cars we drive, and even what we eat and wear. Gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of designing tax policies that encourage positive economic behaviors.
Learn about the different tax types governments rely on to fund priorities like infrastructure, national defense, and social insurance programs and the share of total revenue each tax type generates. See how the U.S. federal government raises revenue, as well as state and local governments, and compare taxes in the U.S. to those around the world. Learn about the central role businesses play in the tax collection process.
Discover the three basic tax types—taxes on what you earn, taxes on what you buy, and taxes on what you own. Learn about 12 specific taxes, four within each main category. Develop a basic understanding of how these taxes fit together, how they impact government revenues and the economy, and where you may encounter them in your daily life.
Discover why there are better and worse ways for governments to raise a dollar of revenue. Compare the economic impact of the three basic tax types—taxes on what you earn, buy, and own—including three specific taxes within each category. Learn about the basics of “dynamic scoring,” one tool economists can use to compare the economic and revenue impact of different tax policies.
Identify some of the most common tax myths and tax policy misconceptions and learn how to separate fact from fiction. Discover why tax refunds shouldn’t be celebrated, why you should pay your income tax bill, and why certain deductions are wrongly labeled “loopholes,” among other useful facts. Improve your ability to counter misleading arguments about the tax code.