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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

Chapter:
(p.55) Four Tax Expenditures and Fiscal Citizenship
Source:
Learning to Love Form 1040
Author(s):

Lawrence Zelenak

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226019086.003.0004

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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