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"For the first time in history the relative tax burden of the United States has now become heavier than that of England. This milestone was passed last week when the levies of the new tax bill went into effect. Under the terms of this measure, the amount which we will pay in taxes will be greater than is paid in England when measured either on a per capita basis or as a percentage of the national income--the only two bases upon which it is possible to make a fair comparison between tax burdens in different countries."
This is the provocative lead to an article by Ralph Robey in last week's issue of Newsweek Magazine. Using figures from the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Robey asserts that "the per capita tax in this country under the new tax bill will be, on a full-year basis, $180 as against $173 in Great Britain. Assuming a national income of $90,000,000 in the United States and $36,000,000 in Britain, our tax bill will amount to 25 per cent of such income, as compared with only 22 per cent in England."
It is the familiar rallying cry of the Administration advocates of more spending and higher taxes that the American people are paying far less to their government than the English. But according to Robey, these frequently heard statements rest upon false bases of comparison. The English people pay higher income and inheritance taxes yes! But they do not bear such a heavy burden of excise taxes, both state and federal. People who compare the British and American tax structures also forget that the English pay 90 per cent of their taxes to their national government, while 40 per cent of our taxes go to municipalities, school systems, park districts, drainage systems, counties, and states. When you add to our federal levies the exorbitant burden of local government, you find that Americans pay higher taxes than the English.
Robey quotes other interesting statistics: England, he says, uses 80 per cent of all governmental expenditures for military purposes, while "in this country only about 50 per cent of all governmental expenditures, federal, state, and local--are used for this purpose." He likewise points out that despite the billions being spent for national defense, the ordinary cost of the federal government has been reduced but a bare two per cent. Although in one year the defense budget increased from $621,000,000 to $3,404,000-000, non-defense expenditures were decreased only from $1,678,000,000 to $1,642,000,000.
"No nation in the world, regardless of how strong it may be, can stand such a financial policy indefinitely and maintain a democratic form of government. With our tax bill now above that of Great Britain it clearly is time to come to our senses."
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