Horizontal Equity

DEFINITION of 'Horizontal Equity'

An economic theory that states that individuals with similar income and assets should pay the same amount in taxes. Horizontal equity should apply to individuals considered equal regardless of the tax system in place. The more neutral a tax system is the more horizontally equitable it is considered to be.

BREAKING DOWN 'Horizontal Equity'

Horizontal equity is hard to achieve in a tax system with loopholes, deductions and incentives, because the presence of any tax break means that similar individuals do not pay the same rate. For example, by allowing mortgage payments to be deducted from income tax, governments create a difference in tax payments between two tax filers who may otherwise be considered economically similar.

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