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The Whys of Taxes

Theme 5: Impact of TaxesLesson 2: The Politics of Taxation


Illustration of the Capitol Building
The idea that people of equal incomes should pay the same amount in taxes is known as horizontal equity. In reality, people and businesses with exactly the same income almost always pay different amounts in taxes. This is because they can claim different tax credits, exemptions, and deductions.

When too many taxpayers benefit from tax breaks, tax revenues for the government may decline. Then, lawmakers must decide on a new course of action. They may raise taxes or cut back on government services.

Lobbyists work to influence lawmakers' decisions about tax laws. It is their job to let lawmakers know how laws affect certain people or businesses. Lobbyists, lawmakers, and the American people must work together to reach decisions about laws in order to make them fair to as many people as possible.


quick check
What prevents horizontal equity from happening?

tax trivia
Did You Know?
Lobbyists who work with the federal government are required to fill out forms identifying the issues that they support. Thousands of lobbyists may be working on a single issue at a time, with each lobbyist representing the interests of a particular special interest group. These issues vary greatly, ranging from environmental concerns to telecommunications to tourism. In 1999, taxation and the IRS Code had almost 3,000 lobbyists working on it, serving 1,411 interest groups.

Test your trivia knowledge by answering the following multiple-choice question. Click on the correct answer. To assess your answers, click on the Check My Answers button.
Which of the issues below had the most lobbyists working on it in 1999?
  • A.
  • B.
  • C.
  • D.

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