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The Tax Foundation is the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit. Since 1937, our principled research, insightful analysis, and engaged experts have informed smarter tax policy at the federal, state, and global levels. For over 80 years, our goal has remained the same: to improve lives through tax policies that lead to greater economic growth and opportunity.
Excise taxes are special taxes on specific goods or activities—such as gasoline, tobacco or gambling—rather than general tax bases such as income or consumption. Excise taxes are often included in the final price of products and services, and are often hidden to consumers.
Overall, excise taxes account for less than 10 percent of all federal receipts. All 50 states and many local municipalities levy excise taxes of various kinds. Studies show excise taxes are disproportionately borne by low-income taxpayers, making them one of the most regressive components of the U.S. tax system.