20 May 2022


Fairness of the American Tax System

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Academic level: College

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The fairness of the American tax system is one that has become an issue of public debate in the recent past, following extensive claim that the tax system favors the one class of people at the expense of another class. The American tax system has incorporated a progressive form of taxation, such that the rich in society share a higher burden of the tax compared to the poorer individuals. Nevertheless, the proportionality of tax payments among different economical income groups is an entirely different ball game, with widespread claims of unequal distribution of the tax burden. This paper considers the fairness of the American tax systems and issues arising from this question.

The fact that Americans believe that the country is an opportunity land means that the larger part of the population believe that people should be rewarded, whether financially or otherwise, depending on their ability to work hard and innovate within their space of operation. As a result, the perception of fairness is a subjective standard that surrounds one’s ability to make the most of what is available to them. Therefore, fairness in the American society is perceived as the reward/burden due to someone according to their personal contribution and ability to innovate. Therefore, if merit were the reason for one’s success, an ideal American society would favor less tax for those using their creativity and innovation, as opposed to wealth obtained through corruption or luck. With that said, the American tax system is fair for distributing the burden equally based on merit (Ballard-Rosa, Martin, & Scheve, 2017). This is because those engaging their creativity for the creation of wealth have rightfully made their living from a space of innovation and deserve the higher income that they get. It is not ‘fair’ to impose a higher tax on them as this would be a direct impeding factor against the spirit of innovation and hard work among citizens.

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Notwithstanding, this concept has not been viewed this way and many citizens would prefer that higher income citizens bear a significantly bigger portion of the tax burden through the introduction of flat tax or consumption tax, which would be charged on consumption goods at the point of sale. While this presents a logistical ease through the eradication of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it has many other challenges attached.

One such challenge includes exposure of citizens to higher consumption rates due to taxes. While this method would achieve higher tax collection, it would have a direct impact on the spending habits of citizens in reaction to attached taxations. This would mean that the tax system suffers during the initial years of implementation as citizens cut down on spending to avoid higher taxation. Nevertheless, once the effects even out, the country is likely to experience higher tax returns and less costs associated with the tax body. In such a system, the equity would be better as richer individuals bear a higher burden than the middle class. This is because the rich engage higher purchase services as opposed to the middle and working class. As a result, the distribution of the tax burden would be set where there is most purchase being done – among the rich, rightfully placing an equitable burden among the economic classes.

In conclusion, the perceptions of fairness for the American tax system vary. For some, the American tax system is fair as it is since it promotes the spirit of innovation and hard work. The tax system backs those with higher incomes as they have engaged a diligent approach. Nevertheless, alternative taxation systems exist where basic commodities would be taxed at the point of sale. Such approaches are under discussion to determine whether they provide a fairer standard for tax burden distribution. At a personal estimation, the tax system is effective at its work. Nevertheless, improvements are welcome.


Ballard-Rosa, C., Martin, L., & Scheve, K. (2017). The structure of American income tax policy preferences. The Journal of Politics, 79(1) , 000-000.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Fairness of the American Tax System.


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