THOSE DIRTY ROTTEN TAXES by Charles Adams

THOSE DIRTY ROTTEN TAXES

The Tax Revolts That Built America
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 This reads like a selectively informed version of a barroom conversation on April 15: lots of venom, little thought. Adams surveys familiar American tax revolts to extend the diatribe introduced in his earlier work (For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on Civilization, 1993). From British taxes to American excises, tariffs, and the income tax, Adams revels in historical evidence that people have always hated taxation. This is not surprising--who likes to pay taxes?--but he's convinced that we have been infected by socialism and must be reminded of the joys of keeping our money for ourselves. Apparently, the rich don't need this lesson, however, for they are fleeing the country en masse to avoid an income tax based on the ``Marxian concept'' of ``ability to pay.'' Nevertheless, Adams's concern about the wealthy extends so far that he sets aside his general antipathy for taxes when it comes to the poor. His response to a Clinton administration official's comment about America being undertaxed is that ``she was right if you look at the taxes paid by the lower-income classes.'' The historiography and analysis are superficial throughout, and while entertaining, the volume is so immersed in a conventional antitax framework that it's utterly predictable. No question that requires exploring basic assumptions is recognized, for example, how the US could have become the strongest power in the world with a skyrocketing standard of living during the time period that the horrible and counterproductive income tax was in place. There is a definite need for better understanding and real reform of taxation in the US, but discussions that embrace popular prejudice and self-interest more than careful consideration of relations between government and society are not likely to be helpful. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-84394-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1998




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