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What Is Income Tax? What are its Common Principles and Criticisms?

What Is Income Tax?

An income tax is a type of tax levied against people or entities (taxpayers) in relation to the income or profits produced by such individuals or businesses (commonly called taxable income). In most cases, income tax is calculated as the product of a tax rate multiplied by the amount of taxable income. Taxation rates may differ depending on the sort of taxpayer or his or her qualities, as well as the type of income.

As taxable income grows, the tax rate may rise in tandem (referred to as graduated or progressive tax rates). The tax placed on corporations is typically referred to as corporate tax, and it is levied at a flat rate in most cases. In many jurisdictions, individual income is taxed at progressive rates, where the tax rate applied to each incremental unit of income increases (for example, the first $10,000 of income is taxed at 0 percent, the following $10,000 of income is taxed at 1 percent, and so on).

Tax-exempt status is granted to most local charity groups in most jurisdictions. It is possible that income from investments will be taxed at a different rate (usually lower) than other sources of income. Tax credits of different kinds may be available to lower the amount of tax owing. Income taxes or taxes on an alternate basis or measure of income are both imposed in some jurisdictions, with the greater of the two being applied.

What Is Income Tax? What are Common Principles and its Criticisms and history?

Income that is taxable to taxpayers who are residents of the jurisdiction is normally equal to their total earnings less income producing costs and other deductions. It is customary to consider just the net gain from the sale of property, including things held for sale, as part of one’s income. Dividends from a corporation’s earnings are often included in the income received by the shareholders of the firm. In most cases, deductions include any and all income-producing or company expenses, as well as an allowance for the recovery of the costs of business assets.

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Individuals may be able to claim notional deductions in many countries, and some may even be able to claim some personal costs. The vast majority of countries either do not tax income generated outside of their jurisdiction or provide a credit for taxes paid to other jurisdictions on income earned outside their jurisdiction. With rare exceptions, nonresidents are only subject to taxation on specific types of income derived from sources within the countries in which they do not live.

Most countries require self-assessment of the tax, and payers of certain types of income are required to withhold tax from such payments in order to comply with the law. It is possible that people will be asked to make advance tax payments. Taxpayers who fail to make timely payments of tax owing are often subject to severe penalties, which may include imprisonment for people or the termination of an entity’s legal existence.

Common Principles

While tax laws differ, several basic ideas are universal. Most tax systems across the world follow the ideas listed below. Some tax systems, like India’s, may deviate greatly from the concepts mentioned here. The examples below are from various jurisdictions:-

  • Taxpayers and rates
  • Residents and non-residents
  • Defining income
  • Deductions allowed
  • Business profits
  • Credits
  • Alternative taxes
  • Administration

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Income tax codes are often filled with ways to avoid paying taxes. When people come up with legal ways to avoid paying taxes, they make them. Lawmakers then try to close the loopholes with more legislation. That leads to a never-ending cycle of more complicated ways to avoid getting caught and more strict laws. The cycle tends to benefit big businesses and wealthy people who can afford the fees that come with ever more sophisticated tax planning. This makes it hard to say that even a marginal income tax system can be called progressive.

Income tax raises the costs of labor and capital, which reduces the amount of economic activity in an economy. People decide not to invest capital or use their time productively because of the tax burden that tax would put on them. There is also a loss when people and professionals spend their time on tax-avoidance instead of doing things that are good for the economy.

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