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Knowledge of taxes and how they are shaped by political factors is critical to understanding how governments function at the federal, state and local levels. Taxes provide governments the means with which to implement public programs, but they are also used by governments to encourage and discourage certain behaviors. This book explores the political and economic implications of diverse tax types, evaluated in light of the political forces and controversies that shaped their development and the metrics that shape their evaluation, including progressiveness, incidence, yield, complexity and avoidance.
Rather than incorporating it in an analysis of the budgetary process, author Michael Thom focuses solely on tax policy in the United States from an accessible but policy-centered perspective. This is the first text to include separate treatment of vice taxes, e.g., those levied on alcohol, recreational drugs and sugar, a form of taxation that has significant public health and behavioral implications, increasingly looked to by policymakers as a solution to various public problems. Presenting current and cumulative scholarship on individual income, consumption, corporate and property taxes, the book concludes with broader issues: the politics of growing tax expenditures and the politics of tax reform. Throughout, it uses tax variation and competition across state and local governments to assess the determinants and effects of tax policy. Tax Politics and Policy is written with an upper-level undergraduate audience in mind, but is also appropriate for use in masters-level graduate programs in public policy, public administration and related fields.