Income tax

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An income tax is a tax levied on the financial income of persons, corporations or other legal entities. Various income tax systems exist, ranging from a flat tax to a progressive tax or graduated income tax system. A tax levied on the income of companies is often called a corporate tax, corporate income tax or corporation tax. Individual income taxes generally tax the total income of the individual (with some deductions permitted), while corporate income taxes often tax net income, the difference between gross receipts, expenses and additional writeoffs.

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[edit] Principles

The 'tax net' refers to what types of money payments are charged the tax. Generally, tax will be charged on personal earnings (wages), capital gains, and business income. The rates for different types of income may vary and some may not be taxed at all. Capital gains may be taxed when realized (e.g. when shares are sold) or when incurred (e.g. when shares appreciate in value). Business income may only be taxed if it is ‘significant’ or based on the manner in which it is paid. Some types of income, such as interest on bank savings, may be considered as personal earnings (similar to wages) or as a realized property gain (similar to selling shares). In some tax systems ‘personal earnings’ may be strictly defined to require that labor, skill, or investment was required (e.g. wages); in others they may be defined broadly to include windfalls (e.g. gambling wins).

Tax rates may be progressive or flat. A progressive tax taxes differentially based on how much has been earned. For example, the first $10,000 in earnings may be taxed at 5%, the next $10,000 at 10%, and any more income at 20%. Alternatively, a flat tax taxes all earnings at the same rate. A tax system may use both progressive and flat taxes for different types of income.

Often income tax systems will have deductions available. Deductions lessen the total tax liability by reducing total taxable income.

Income tax systems may allow losses from one type of income to be counted against another. For example, a loss on the stock market may be deducted against tax paid on wages. Other tax systems may isolate the loss, such that business losses can only be deducted against business tax, by carrying forward the loss to later tax years.

Income tax is often collected on a pay-as-you-earn basis, with small corrections made soon after the end of the tax year. These corrections take one of two forms: payments to the government, for taxpayers who have not paid enough during the tax year; and tax refunds from the government for those who have overpaid.

[edit] History

The concept of taxing income is a modern innovation and presupposes several things: a money economy, reasonably accurate accounts, a common understanding of receipts, expenses and profits, and an orderly society with reliable records. For most of the history of civilization, these preconditions did not exist, and taxes were based on other factors. Taxes on wealth, social position, and ownership of the means of production (typically land and slaves) were all common. Practices such as tithing, or an offering of firstfruits, existed from ancient times, and can be regarded as a precursor of the income tax, but they lacked precision and certainly were not based on a concept of net increase.

A true income tax was first implemented in Britain by William Pitt the Younger in his budget of December 1798 to pay for weapons and equipment in preparation for the Napoleonic wars. Pitt's new graduated income tax began at a levy of 2d in the pound (0.8333%) on incomes over £60 and increased up to a maximum of 2s (10%) on incomes of over £200. Pitt hoped that the new income tax would raise £10 million but actual receipts for 1799 totalled just over £6 million.

Income tax was levied under 5 schedules—income not falling within those schedules was not taxed. The schedules were:

  • Schedule A (tax on income from UK land)
  • Schedule B (tax on commercial occupation of land)
  • Schedule C (tax on income from public securities)
  • Schedule D (tax on trading income, income from professions and vocations, interest, overseas income and casual income)
  • Schedule E (tax on employment income)

Later a sixth Schedule, Schedule F (tax on UK dividend income) was added.

Pitt's income tax was levied from 1799 to 1802, when it was abolished by Henry Addington during the Peace of Amiens. Addington had taken over as prime minister in 1801, after Pitt's resignation over Catholic Emancipation. The income tax was reintroduced by Addington in 1803 when hostilities recommenced, but it was again abolished in 1816, one year after the Battle of Waterloo.

Finally, UK income tax was reintroduced by Sir Robert Peel in the Income Tax Act 1842. Peel, as a Conservative, had opposed income tax in the 1841 general election, but a growing budget deficit required a new source of funds. The new income tax, based on Addington's model, was imposed on incomes above £150.

UK income tax has changed over the years. Originally it taxed a person's income regardless of who was beneficially entitled to that income, but now a person only owes tax on income to which he or she is beneficially entitled. Most companies were taken out of the income tax net in 1965 when corporation tax was introduced. Also the Schedules under which tax is levied have changed. Schedule B was abolished in 1988, Schedule C in 1996 and Schedule E in 2003, though the Schedular system and Schedules A, D and F still remain. Rates peaked in the late 1970s at 99%.

The Finance Act 2004 introduced an income tax regime known as pre-owned asset tax which aims to reduce the use of common methods of inheritance tax avoidance.<ref>REV BN 40: Tax Treatment Of Pre-Owned Assets</ref>

[edit] Income tax systems

[edit] Australia

Since 1942, income tax in Australia has been collected solely by the Federal Government, to the exclusion of the Australian States (see Constitutional basis of taxation in Australia). Australia uses a system of progressive taxation on personal income that is collected as a pay-as-you-go tax (known as PAYG), a flat rate tax on business income (company tax), and a property tax limited to realised capital gains. Australia’s income tax system contains a complex array of deductions and offsets, and is administered by the Australian Taxation Office.

[edit] Canada

Income Tax was first imposed in Canada in 1917 on both individuals and corporations under the Income War Tax Act. Income tax in Canada is collected primarily by the Federal Government. Tax collection agreements enable both the federal and provincial governments to levy income taxes through a single administration and collection agency. The federal government collects personal income taxes on behalf of all provinces except Quebec and collects corporate income taxes on behalf of all provinces except Alberta and Quebec. Canada's federal income tax system is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Canada has a graduated tax system, whereby the percentage over the "more than" amount goes up....graduated from 15.25 - 29% (2006)

[edit] Hong Kong

There are 3 types of income earned in HK is to be taxed, but they are not called income taxes. Per HK Inland Revenue Ordinance Chapter 112 (In short "IRO"), these 3 types of income are classified into:

  1. Profit tax IRO section 14
  2. Salaries tax IRO section 8
  3. Property tax IRO section 5

The Hong Kong OrdinancesInland Revenue Ordinance Cap.112

[edit] India

Main article: Income tax in India

In India, Individual income tax is a progressive tax with three slabs. No income tax is applicable on income up to Rs. 100,000 per year. (Rs. 135,000 for women and Rs. 185,000 for senior citizens) The highest slab is 30%, with a 10% surcharge (tax on tax) for incomes above Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. 1 million) . All income taxes are subject to 2% education cess, applicable on the tax paid. Deductions and rebates are provided for housing purchases, rent, long term savings and insurance.

Business income is taxed at a flat rate of 33% for Indian companies. Foreign companies pay 40%.

Dividends are income tax free to shareholders - instead, companies are charged a 12% dividend distribution tax. Long term capital gains stands at 20% (for gold, real estate and such) with indexation benefits provided for inflation adjustments. For sales of shares in recognised stock exchanges, long term capital gains are not taxed at all, with only 10% income tax on short term gains (less than 1 year of holding). All other short term gains are clubbed with income in the year the gains occur.

[edit] Indonesia

Main article: Taxation in Indonesia

The income tax is known as Pajak Penghasilan or PPh for short. It is considered a progressive tax.

[edit] Netherlands

The Netherlands taxes income on personal income (wages, profits, social security); some business income; and savings and investments.

The tax on personal income is a progressive tax and casts a wide tax net over wages, profits, social security, and pensions. The highest marginal rate is 52%. Tax is withheld from wages. As an example of the breadth of the tax net, value gains in owner-occupied homes are treated as personal income, even though those gains are not realised (i.e. do not equate to cash in hand). Interest can be deducted as a cost incurred in earning the income.

The tax on business income is a flat tax of 25% only applied to ‘substantial business interests’ which are generally a shareholding of 5%. A flat tax is paid on savings and investments, even if the gain is not realised.

[edit] Singapore

Individual income tax is a progressive tax with a highest marginal rate of 20% with effect from Year of Assessment 2007. The tax net includes employment income, dividends, interests, and rental incomes. A range of deductions are available.

[edit] Sweden

Sweden has a taxation system that combines a direct tax (paid by the employee) with an indirect tax (paid by the employer). In practice, the employer provides the state with both means of taxation but the employee only sees the direct tax on his declaration form. Below is a compilation of the taxes that compose the final income tax (2003):

  • Tax on "gross" income "from the employer": 32.82% (indirect, fixed)
  • Pension "fee" on "gross" income: 6.95% (indirect, fixed)
  • "Municipal tax" on, "gross" income less pension tax and a "base deduction": ~32% (direct, varies by municipality)
  • "State tax" on, "gross" income less pension tax and a "base deduction": 0%, 20% or 25% (direct, progressive)

[edit] United Kingdom

Income tax is an annual tax and is reimposed each year in the annual Finance Act.

The British income tax system is a progressive one with a number of bands: 10% (lower rate), 20% (basic rate for unearned income), 22% (basic rate on earnings from employment, a trade or profession), and (in respect of the higher rate band and trust income) 32.5% on UK dividends and 40% on other sources of income. There are also a number of untaxed allowances to which tax bands do not apply.

In addition the UK has a National insurance contribution based on income. Although effectively another form of income tax, credits for payments of this applied to the individual's record which, in turn, will impact on entitlement to welfare and (the level of)state pension payments. Rates are levied on the self employed, the employed and their respective employers.

[edit] United States

The United States imposes an income tax on individuals and corporations. This tax is levied from the happening of an event, such as the payment of a wage or the purchase of property - the appreciation on the value of property, for example, is not taxed until that property is sold. The U.S. income tax was first imposed during the Civil War. Income taxes were enacted at various times until 1894, but were not imposed from 1895 until the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913. However, ratification is disputed by some tax protestors along with other arguments about the validity of the U.S. income tax (see Tax protester arguments).

[edit] U.S. state

Income tax may also be levied by individual U.S. states. In addition, some states allow individual cities to impose an additional income tax. However, not all states levy income tax. States that do not levy income tax include:

  • Alaska – no tax on individuals but there is a state corporate income tax
  • Florida – no tax on individuals but there is a state corporate income tax
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire – does have tax on interest and dividends, wages earned in other states, and wages earned by non-residents
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee – does have tax on interest and dividends
  • Texas – recently passed a gross receipts tax on businesses; the Texas Constitution places severe restrictions on passage of a personal income tax
  • Washington - Has a corporate tax called the "Business and Operations Tax"
  • Wyoming
For more details on this topic, see List of U.S. states without a personal income tax.

[edit] Countries with no personal income tax

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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Income tax

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