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Taxes: Principles, Types, Classes of Taxation

Key Takeaways:

  • Taxes are mandatory payments made to the government.
  • In the United States, federal income taxes are handled by the IRS.
  • Individual and also business taxpayers are affected differently by the different types of taxes like income, payroll, or even sales.
money, paper and pen on table
Photo by Marco Verch\Flickr

Introduction to Taxes

The governments rely heavily on tax revenue to finance public infrastructure, services, and initiatives. Local, regional, or national levels are only a few of the uses for these mandatory contributions.

The IRS is responsible for overseeing federal income taxes in the United States.
Taxes come in various forms such as income, payroll, sales, and property taxes.

Knowing what causes a tax case is very essential to manage the finances correctly. Earned income, trading activity, and property ownership are a few factors that might lead to tax issues.

The government uses the tax revenue to provide many services such as Social Security and also Medicare while investing in public infrastructure.

Types of Tax:

Various forms of taxes take different roles in terms of provision of revenue to the government. These types are very crucial to understand for the individuals and also businesses undertaking the tax environment.

Income Tax:

In America, the progressive income tax levies a higher portion of revenue taxes from the wealthy individuals or corporations. Filing status and income sources lead to the marginal tax rates that dictate the amount of tax.

Payroll Tax:

Part of the funding for government services comes from payroll taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks. These programs included, Social Security and Medicare. An additional 15.3% of the total comes from employers. Depending on the greater wages, additional Medicare taxes may be payable.

Corporate Tax:

The taxable income, serves as the foundation for company taxes. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the flat rate in USD amounted to 35%, but currently it is equal to twenty-one percent. There is a new corporate minimum tax of 15% on some corporations.

Sales Tax:

Sales tax are varies by the jurisdiction. Every state has its own rates, and in 2023 Tennessee had the highest average of combined and local sales tax rate-9.55%.

Property Tax:

Property taxes are also very different depending on the appraised value of the land and other property assets. Rates may be adjusted by the reassessments, and some states also tax tangible personal property.


Import taxes are imposed with the intention of bolstering domestic companies. Both ad valorem or percent duty systems and set fee tariffs are available.

Estate Tax:

Estate taxes range from 18% to 40%, and they are imposed on the estates that exceed exclusion limits. As of 2023, the federal exclusion limit is set at $12.96 million dollars per year.

It is crucial for the individuals and businesses to master the nuances associated with each tax category. So as to overcome challenges in navigating within a complex environment of taxes.

Tax policy differs from one country to another, therefore a careful look at each local law is very important for planning the finances.

Detailed Information on Income Tax:

One of the government revenue’s major constituents is income tax; but it is also a complicated system.

Progressive Tax System:

In the US, a progressive income tax system is in place, meaning that higher incomes are subject to comparatively high tax rates. Liabilities, such as married filing jointly or being single affects the tax.

Marginal Tax Rates:

Numerous variables, including filing status and the source of income, affect the marginal tax rate.

The holding period is another factor that differentiates the capital gains taxes, again taken when selling any appreciating property.

Capital Gains Taxes:

When levied on profits derived from the resale of property, capital gains tax differ between short-term (held for a year or less) and long- term investments. Long-run profits attract lower tax rates.

Tax Records:

When filing returns, reporting ownership length accurately involves a considerable amount of importance in accurate tax record-keeping. It is through proper documentation that the tax regulations are followed.

Payroll Taxes:

Payroll taxes also have an employee and employer components that fund Medicare. The total remitted is at 15.3% and this gives rise to the additional Medicare taxes on higher incomes

Difference Between Taxes and Other Payments:

Not all government income is tax based. Fines and user fees are some other forms of charges that the government imposes but they do not constitute as tax.

The difference between taxes, fees and fines is that while the former ones serve to raise revenue, the latter two are intended for other purposes. Fees are charged to balance out the cost of offering a service.

A case in point is the payment of a small entrance fee to access state park that covers staff and maintenance cost. Fines are not the same as tax, since they do punish an illegal or annoying act such as fines for dropping litter.

There may be fees and penalties that are not taxes but there is tax by other names. Other titles for it include:

  • Assessment
  • Duty
  • Tariff
  • Customs
  • Capitation
  • Levy
  • Millage
  • Impost/Imposition

Classes of Taxes:

The basis of classification in the literature on public finance is according to many ways, such as levied by whom; who ultimately carries it and pays it, the capacity for shifting burdens.

Direct Taxes:

When it comes to natural persons, direct taxes are primarily concerned with their ability to pay. This ability is determined by factors like income, consumption, or net wealth. Below is the description of various direct taxes.

Individual Income Taxes: Often charged to the total personal net income of the taxpayer, individual taxes take into account such factors as family status, number and age of children, and also costs stemming from illness among other things.

Generally speaking, they are levied according to a progressive scale, meaning that rates rise as income does.

Taxes on Net Worth: A tax imposed on the total net book value of an entity; that is, assets less any liabilities. Such personal circumstances of the taxpayer may be necessarily considered.

Personal or Direct Taxes on Consumption: Based on factors like age, marital status, and other factors, the taxes that are due on non-saved income might be adjusted based on an individual’s ability.

Taxes at Death: They come in two types: inheritance tax (taxable bequests received) and estate tax (taxable total estate left by the deceased). Inheritance taxes could involve both the donor’s relation to an heir and that person’s net worth prior to receiving a bequest.

Indirect Taxes:

The production or consumption of goods and services, as well as trade activities like imports and exports, are all subject to indirect taxes.

General Sales Taxes: Applied to a large share of the consumer spending sales taxes can be flat or different for various products. Stages in the production-distribution process are taxed through the multistage. The VAT, a type of sales taxation that provides credit for the same amount in the tax on purchases.

Exercises are typically imposed on the specific commodities or services. These mainly target alcoholic beverages, as well as the motor fuel. In nations where gambling is prohibited by taxation, state-run lotteries may be considered gaming excises.

Principles of Taxation:

Adam Smith, the 18th-century philosopher and also economist, tried to rationalize those rules that ought to regulate any reasonable taxation system. In the book “The Wealth of Nations,” he outlined four general commandments.

I. Every state is due to receive from its subjects contributions as much as possible based on the abilities of those within the states. That is, according to the revenue which they enjoy under protection of respective countries.

II. The tax that everyone is required to make must be fixed and not arbitrary. It is important to include the amount owed, the method of payment, and the time frame for making the payment.

III. Each tax should be collected just in the manner. It can be at that time when it is liable to prove least inconvenient for the payer.

IV. In addition to what is given to the national budget, every tax should be intended to take and hold as little money out of private pockets or treasuries as possible.

Horizontal Equity:

Horizontal equity holds the notion of equality whereby persons in similar situations, relating to tax matters should bear the equal tax burden. Practically, this equality principle is mostly neglected deliberately as well as unintentionally.

Economic Efficiency:

A market economic system must have an efficient tax regime in place. Generally, tax policy should avoid disturbing the market’s distribution of economic resources.

On the whole, it is of great importance to comprehend the taxes and their variations with regard to the classifications as well as tax principles.

A tax system that is well-balanced and rigidly organized has a primary role in upholding functions of the government.


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