January 1, 1941

Tax Facts & Figures, First Edition

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Foreword This, the first edition of Tax Facts and Figures, is a statistical and graphic summary of data relating to Federal, state and local finances. For the first time the widely scattered facts on tax collections, public expenditures and public debt are assembled in one convenient and concise handbook.

The financial operations of 175,000 governmental units in the United States are distilled in these compilations. It is to be hoped, however, that the brevity and simplicity of this information will not mislead one into believing that the operations of the various fiscal units are equally as simple. On the contrary, they are confused, overlapping, unduly ramified and very costly.

This confusion in governmental operations has resulted in confused thought. There is need for concise and accurate data. Facts give a broader perspective, facts dissipate predilections and prejudices.

These materials, therefore, have been brought together to encourage orderly thinking. They reflect the financial operations of our three levels of government—Federal, state and local. Furthermore, they are so organized as to emphasize the close interrelationships of taxes, public expenditures and public debt—which too many regard as unrelated phenomena.

The need for such a convenient collection has long been felt—by editors harassed by deadlines, by legislators acting under pressure, by students trying to find orderly processes in the chaos, by all those who strive to serve the public—and by the average citizen who so often is completely overwhelmed.

If this collection of data satisfies that need, we shall feel that an important step has been taken to meet the challenge presented by the broad problems of public finance.

A tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities.