Progressive Tax

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What is a 'Progressive Tax'

A progressive tax is a tax that takes a larger percentage from the income of high-income earners than it does from low-income individuals. The United States income tax is considered progressive: in 2010, individuals who earned up to $8,375 fell into the 10% tax bracket, while individuals earning $373,650 or more fell into the 35% tax bracket. Basically, taxpayers are broken down into categories based on taxable income; the more one earns, the more taxes they will have to pay once they cross the benchmark cut-off points between the different tax bracket levels.

BREAKING DOWN 'Progressive Tax'

The U.S. progressive income tax is effectively a means of income redistribution. Individuals who earn more pay higher taxes; those taxes are then used to fund social welfare programs that are used primarily by individuals who earn less. Critics of the progressive tax consider it to be discriminatory and believe that a flat tax system, which imposes the same tax on everyone regardless of income, is a fairer method of taxation.

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