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No. 91 in the series of Monographs by writers connected with the London
School of Economics and Political Science.
THE INCOME TAX IN GREAT BRITAIN
AND THE UNITED STATES
GREAT BRITAIN AND
HARRISON B. SPAULDING, Ph.D.,
THE War has not been entirely without good results. The need of enormous amounts of revenue to pay for it has resulted in an intensive study of tax schemes and an earnest effort on the part of many nations to place their revenue laws on sound bases. When the necessity for revenue is small, and rates of tax are low, no great harm is done if tax laws are imperfect. But when tax burdens are keenly felt by every one, it becomes of urgent importance to see that those burdens are imposed in accordance with principles of equity and sound theory.
In recent years a great deal of work has been done in public finance in the field of general theory, but I have felt that a study along more particular lines might be quite as valuable. Controversy over the general merits of the income tax is largely a thing of the past, and income taxes now occupy an important place in the revenue schemes of most countries. In both Great Britain and the United States, the income tax is the principal source of public revenue, and there is no indication that it will not continue to be so. Great Britain has had the advantage of over a century of experience with it; the United States has had, perhaps, an equal advantage in that it has been free to develop its income tax without the hampering burden of long and firmly established usages. Both countries, since the War, have given close attention to their income tax laws and have made many important changes. Many further changes will undoubtedly be made, but it is reasonably safe to say that the broad bases on which the two taxes rest, and their essential features as they now exist, will for many years remain substantially as they are.
A comparative study of the income tax laws of these two