progressive tax

progressive tax

Tax levied at a rate that increases as the quantity subject to taxation increases. Designed to collect a greater proportion of tax revenue from wealthy people, progressive taxes reflect the view that those who are able to pay more should carry a heavier share of the tax burden. Progressive income taxes may provide for exemption from tax liability for incomes under a specified amount, or they may establish progressively greater rates for larger and larger incomes. The presence of deductions can also make a tax progressive. Progressive taxes are a stabilizing force in periods of inflation or recession because the amount of tax revenue changes more than proportionately with an increase or decrease in income. For example, in an inflationary economy, as prices and incomes rise, a greater percentage of taxpayers' income goes toward taxes. Government revenues increase, and the government has more leverage over the economy. A side effect of this system is that lower-income taxpayers have an especially difficult time making ends meet when inflation is high. To compensate, many economists advocate indexation; several countries adjust their tax rates annually in times of inflation, usually in line with the consumer price index. See also regressive tax.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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