Rick Perry follows Herman Cain in proposing a flat tax. Ron Paul has endorsed the idea before, too. But the hot new idea among GOP presidential candidates is as old as the Civil War.
The Revenue Act of 1862 was passed as an emergency and temporary war-time tax. It copied a relatively new British system of income taxation, instead of trade and property taxation. The first income tax was passed in 1861:
The initial rate was 3% on income over $800, which exempted most wage-earners.
In 1862 the rate was 3% on income between $600 and $10,000, and 5% on income over $10,000.
In 1864 the rate was 5% on income between $600 and $5,000; 7.5% on income $5,000–$10,000; and 10% on income $10,000 and above.
By the end of the war, 10% of Union households had paid some form of income tax, and the Union raised 21% of its war revenue through income taxes.
What Is a Flat Tax?
the flat rate be 20%, and let the deductions be $20,000 per adult and $7,000 per dependent. Under such a system, a family of four making $54,000 a year would owe no tax. A family of four making $74,000 a year would owe tax amounting to 0.20 × (74,000 − 54,000) = $4,000, as under a flat tax with deductions. But families of four earning less than $54,000 per year would owe a "negative" amount of tax (that is, it would receive money from the government). For example, if it earned $34,000 a year, it would receive a check for $4,000. The NIT is intended to replace not just the US A's income tax, but also many benefits low income American households receive, such as food stamps and Medicaid. The NIT is designed to avoid the welfare trap—effective high marginal tax rates arising from the rules reducing benefits as market income rises. An objection to the NIT is that it is welfare without a work requirement. Those who would owe negative tax would be receiving a form of welfare without having to make an effort to obtain employment. Another objection is that the NIT subsidizes industries employing low cost labor, but this objection can also be made against current systems of benefits for the working poor.
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