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Taxation Types: Proportional, Progressive, Regressive and Digressive Taxes

Regressive Vs Proportional Vs Progressive Taxes

For example, public parking is charged based on the purchase of a service, and is charged at the same rate regardless of one’s income. Generally speaking, non-tax revenue tends to be a regressive revenue source. As more states and localities seek to cut or avoid raising taxes, many have increased their reliance on fees thus making most state and local tax codes even more regressive than this study shows. See Appendix C for a ranking of states based on their reliance on non-tax revenue vs. tax revenue. All of the ten states with more equitable tax systems have refundable Earned Income Tax Credits; EITC’s in 7 of the 10 states exceed a quarter of the federal credit. Refundable credits to offset sales and property taxes are also common.

Regressive Vs Proportional Vs Progressive Taxes

In most cases, taxes won’t be strictly increasing or decreasing in income, and even in those cases, it is still of interest to know whether one tax is more progressive/regressive than another. One solution to this problem is to simply graph the results and allow readers to interpret them as they wish. This approach was taken in the following example looking at superannuation tax concessions, taken from page 56 of the TTPIstocktake report. Describe the differences between a regressive, progressive and flat tax.


Taxes can be evaluated based on an average impact or a marginal impact and can be categorized as progressive, regressive, or proportional. We will not represent you before the IRS or state tax authority or provide legal advice. If we are not able to connect you to one of our tax professionals, we will refund the applicable TurboTax Live Business or TurboTax Live Full Service Business federal and/or state purchase price paid.

  • After state and local taxes are collected, the average after-tax income of Texas’s top earners stands at 140 times the size of the average after-tax income of the state’s low-income residents.
  • Its schedule of marginal tax rates imposes a higher income tax rate on people with higher incomes, and a lower income tax rate on people with lower incomes.
  • This shows how the regressive tax rate remains constant irrespective of the income level of the US citizens.
  • The income tax rate itself is proportional, with people with higher incomes paying more tax but at the same rate.

Seven of these states do not levy a broad-based personal income tax while the remaining three have a personal income tax rate structure that is flat or virtually flat. A calculation of effective sales and excise tax rates finds that, on average, the lowest-income 20 percent pay 7.1 percent, the middle 20 percent pay 4.8 percent and the top 1 percent pay a comparatively meager 0.9 percent rate. An average tax rate is the ratio of the total amount of taxes paid, T, to the total tax base, P, whereas the marginal tax rate equals the change in taxes, divided by the change in tax base. A proportional tax is a tax imposed so that the tax rate is fixed, with no change as the taxable base amount increases or decreases.

Difference Between Progressive and Regressive Tax

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What is an example of a regressive tax in India?

Indirect taxes, such as sales and service taxes, are examples of regressive taxes because both the rich and the poor pay the same tax when buying ordinary goods and services. Other regressive taxes include: Sales Tax. Property Tax.

Hence, the disutility of paying a high tax by rich is not as much as that of poor in paying even a low tax. Therefore, the rich should be taxed at a higher rate than the poor. The proportional tax rate has a constant slope, graphically, while the progressive tax rate has a rising positive slope.

What is Progressive Tax?

The regressive tax is one that rises in proportion to the decrease in income. Progressive tax is levied heavily on the ones with high income; proportional tax is levied equal on every income group; and regressive tax is levied heavily on lower income groups. Regressive taxes may contribute to income inequality but can effectively raise government revenue. Progressive taxes can be Regressive Vs Proportional Vs Progressive Taxes an effective tool for reducing income inequality and providing support for low-income households. Proportional taxes are typically applied to specific goods or services, such as sales tax on goods or flat taxes on income. Understanding the differences between these tax systems is crucial for individuals, businesses, and policymakers to make informed decisions regarding taxation.

Regressive Vs Proportional Vs Progressive Taxes

Though the United States doesn’t rely as heavily on proportional taxes, other people argue that federal income taxes should be proportional to make the system fairer for everyone, regardless of how much money they make. The difference between regressive, proportional, and progressive taxes comes down to how the amount of tax that you pay relates to your income. In the case of regressive taxes, low-income individuals pay a higher percentage of their income toward a particular tax. For progressive taxes, high-income taxpayers usually pay a higher rate. And proportional taxes apply to everyone at the same rate of income.

Content: Progressive Tax Vs Regressive Tax

For example, say a doctor earns $175,000 annually and a retail worker earns $30,000 annually. They both purchase a laptop for $1,000, and are charged $50 GST ($1,000 X 5%). Although the $50 GST amount is the same for both the doctor and the retail worker it is a higher percentage of the retail workers overall income. This is known as a regressive tax because it has a larger percentage impact on lower income individuals. The progressive tax system also complies with the canon of elasticity. For, a rise in income is automatically taxed at a higher rate under the system so that revenue increases with economic expansion.

Some states use a proportional tax system for their income taxes. So, if a proportional tax rate were 5%, a person making $10,000 would owe $500 and a person making $50,000 would owe $2,500. When you buy an item, the same tax applies for anyone buying it. Other examples along the same lines are excise taxes on airfare or gasoline and property taxes. A progressive tax has more of a financial impact on higher-income individuals than on low-income earners, with tax rate, and tax liability, increasing, in line with a taxpayer’s income.


These states promote progressivity through the structure of their income taxes, including their rates (higher marginal rates for higher-income taxpayers), deductions, exemptions, and use of targeted refundable credits. The burden of a tax results from both the design of a tax and the true economic burden of a tax. A regressive tax is often flat in nature, meaning that the same rate of tax applies regardless of income. These taxes include most sales taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, and property taxes.

  • Inflation can also cause “bracket creep.” This is when taxpayers are pushed into a higher tax bracket, even though their higher income doesn’t give them more buying power.
  • A progressive tax imposes a greater percentage of taxation on higher income levels, operating on the theory that high-income earners can afford to pay more.
  • So called ‘sin taxes’, such as the taxes placed on gambling, alcohol and tobacco tend to disproportionately affect those on low incomes.
  • Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work.

It’s not that the cashier asked Joe about his income and then charged him a higher percentage of that number in sales tax — It’s just that $50 is a greater burden for Joe than for Jill. Regressive taxes may seem fair because they are imposed on everyone regardless of income, but they hurt low-income earners more than others. That’s because they spend a larger portion of their income on regressive taxes than people who earn more.

What is a regressive tax?

Doing so makes the credit easy for state taxpayers to claim and straightforward for state tax administrators. If you’re trying to learn more about taxes, there’s plenty of information out there. But before you dig into the details about rates and returns, it might be worth getting familiar with broader ideas that have an everyday impact on your finances.

Regressive Vs Proportional Vs Progressive Taxes

Other examples of proportional taxes include per capita taxes, gross receipts taxes, and occupational taxes. A regressive tax system levies the same percentage on products or goods purchased regardless of the buyer’s income and is thought to be disproportionately difficult on low earners. Sales tax, user fee, excise tax, property tax, sin tax, etc., are common forms of these taxes. Regressive taxes are when higher income people pay a smaller percent of income than the lower income people . Progressive taxes are when higher income people pay a greater percent of their income compared to lower income people . The report’s universe of taxpayers includes most, but not all, of the residents of each state.

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