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A Brief Assessment of Income Taxes


Income taxes are the obligatory financial contribution levied against the annual earnings of both individuals and companies. Every year, income taxes are collected by the federal government via the filing of income tax returns. Every individual and company is responsible for truthfully and accurately reporting all of their income to the government in order for the correct amount of tax liability to be applied. The collection of this revenue pays for a number of federal programs, facilities and services that a large part of the population depends on every day. Federal income tax returns and state income tax returns are often filed together.

The three most common tax systems currently in use are progressive, regressive and proportional. A large majority of countries use the progressive model to collect income taxes. In this form of collection the higher the income, the higher the tax rate. Individuals are grouped into certain tax brackets based on income. To help reduce their tax burden, individuals are allowed certain deductions that can be subtracted from their gross income. These deductions can be anything from educational expenses to certain medical care expenses. A deduction is not the same as a tax credit. Tax credits reduce what an individual owes in total income taxes.

While both individuals and companies are required to pay income taxes, the tax return for a business has a number of characteristics that non business returns do not. With corporate taxes, the net income is taxed instead of the gross income. This is because businesses often have many more deductions and expenses than the average individual. These expenses can be anything from advertising to office supplies and equipment. Accurate accounting is a must for businesses in order for the appropriate corporate tax codes to be applied. To avoid penalties and fines, businesses often rely on professional tax preparers to astutely organize their financial information at tax time.

The long history of organized civilization has seen many tax collection systems come and go. While they have all faced much criticism, taxes are nonetheless very necessary to keep a country viable for its citizens. For the United States, the issue of income tax arose several times before being permanently instated in 1913. Except for the dozen or so countries that do not levy a personal income tax, nearly every nation has some debate about their tax system. In the United States, one of the most common complaints is the long and confusing tax codes; however, the preparation of income taxes has recently become much easier with the advent of online filing.

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