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Learning to Love Form 1040Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax$
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Lawrence Zelenak

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226018928

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226019086.001.0001

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Tax Expenditures and Fiscal Citizenship

Tax Expenditures and Fiscal Citizenship

(p.55) Four Tax Expenditures and Fiscal Citizenship
Learning to Love Form 1040

Lawrence Zelenak

University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes how the existence of return-based mass taxation in the postwar era facilitated the explosive growth of tax expenditures — subsidies designed to further nontax policy goals, embedded in the income tax — including the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable contributions deduction, the earned income tax credit (EITC), and an array of provisions serving various education- and environment-related purposes. This is not entirely to the credit of return-based taxation, because many of the tax expenditures are of doubtful merit. In fiscal-citizenship terms, however, one tax expenditure — the deduction for donations to charity — has been remarkably successful. The deduction enables taxpayers to decide whether to satisfy their financial obligations to society by paying a certain amount of tax, or by contributing a larger amount to charity.

Keywords:   return-based mass taxation, taxes, tax policy, income tax, fiscal citizenship, charitable donations

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