Progressive taxation is a form of taxation where the rates of tax paid increase as income increases. This form of taxation is generally preferred by liberals because it leads to increased income equality. Conservatives generally argue that at its most extreme it is simply a form of income redistribution and class warfare.
It deserves note that Adam Smith, an early proponent of a laissez-faire economy, suggested that small amounts of progressive taxation could be beneficial to society whereby the rich are taxed more heavily than the poor. The name is a technical economic term and has nothing to do with causing progress.
Progressive taxation is often times associated with Marxism due to the fact that both Marx and Engels were proponents of this form. The goal of the founders of communism was in their words: "to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeois, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state."
The first American President to ever call for progressive taxation was Theodore Roosevelt. His hand-picked successor Taft was able to get the measure started, as well as having it enshrined as a constitutional amendment.
Arguments for and against
Arguments in favor of increased taxation on wealthier members of society include an increased ability to pay and the fact that the wealthy have more to gain from protection from the destruction of society from internal or external forces. On the other hand, progressive taxation stifles economic progress because it reduces the incentive for people to work harder and create wealth.
- Ending Tax Socialism
- 1907 State of the Union address