Economic inequality (also described as the gap between rich and poor, income inequality, wealth disparity, or wealth and income differences) is the difference between individuals or populations in the distribution of their assets, wealth, or income. The term typically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries. The issue of economic inequality involves equity, equality of outcome, equality of opportunity, and life expectancy.
Opinions differ on the utility of inequality and its effects. A 2010 study considered it beneficial, while other recent studies consider it a growing social problem. While some inequality promotes investment, too much inequality is destructive. Income inequality can hinder long term growth. Statistical studies comparing inequality to year-over-year economic growth have been inconclusive; however in 2011, researchers from the International Monetary Fund published that income equality was more determinate of the duration of countries' growth spells than free trade, low government corruption, foreign investment, or low foreign debt.
Public economics (or economics of the public sector) is the study of government policy through the lens of economic efficiency and equity. At its most basic level, public economics provides a framework for thinking about whether or not the government should participate in economics markets and to what extent its role should be. In order to do so, microeconomic theory is utilized to assess whether the private market is likely to provide efficient outcomes in the absence of governmental interference. Inherently, this study involves the analysis of government taxation and expenditures. This subject encompasses a host of topics including market failures, externalities, and the creation and implementation of government policy. Public economics builds on the theory of welfare economics and is ultimately used as a tool to improve social welfare.
Broad methods and topics include:
Political economy was the original term used for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth. Political economy originated in moral philosophy. It was developed in the 18th century as the study of the economies of states, or polities, hence the term political economy.
In the late 19th century, the term economics came to replace political economy, coinciding with the publication of an influential textbook by Alfred Marshall in 1890. Earlier, William Stanley Jevons, a proponent of mathematical methods applied to the subject, advocated economics for brevity and with the hope of the term becoming "the recognised name of a science."
A tax refund or tax rebate is a refund on taxes when the tax liability is less than the taxes paid. Taxpayers can often get a tax refund on their income tax if the tax they owe is less than the sum of the total amount of the withholding taxes and estimated taxes that they paid, plus the refundable tax credits that they claim. (Tax refunds are money given back at the end of the financial year.)
According to the Internal Revenue Service, 77% of tax returns filed in 2004 received a refund check, with the average refund check being $2,100. In 2011 the average tax refund was $2,913. Taxpayers may choose to have their refund directly deposited into their bank account, have a check mailed to them, or have their refund applied to the following year's income tax. As of 2006, tax filers may now split their tax refund with direct deposit in up to three separate accounts with three different financial institutions. This has given taxpayers an opportunity to save and spend some of their refund (rather than only spend their refund). Every year, a number of U.S. taxpayers around the country get tax refunds even if they owe zero income tax. This is due to withholding calculations and the earned income tax credit. Because withholding is calculated on an annualized basis, an individual just entering the work force or unemployed for a long period of time will have more tax than is owed withheld. Refund anticipation loans are a common means to receive a tax refund early, but at the expense of high fees that can reach over 2,000% annual interest. In the 1990s, refunds could take as long as twelve weeks to come back to the taxpayer; however, the average time for a refund is now six weeks, with refunds from electronically filed returns coming in three weeks.
Unearned income can be discussed from either an economic or accounting perspective, but is more commonly used in economics.
Unearned income is a term in economics that has different meanings and implications depending on the theoretical frame. To classical economists, with their emphasis on dynamic competition, income not subject to competition are “rents” or unearned income, such as incomes attributable to monopolization or land ownership. According to certain conceptions of the Labor Theory of Value, it may refer to all income that is not a direct result of labor. In a neoclassical frame, it may mean income not attributed to any factor of production. Generally it may be used to refer to windfall profits, such as when population growth increases the value of a plot of land.
The United States of America is a federal republic with autonomous state and local governments. Taxes are imposed in the United States at each of these levels. These include taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees. In 2010 taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of GDP. In the OECD, only Chile and Mexico taxed less as a share of GDP. The United States also has one of the most progressive tax systems in the industrialized world.
Taxes are imposed on net income of individuals and corporations by the federal, most state, and some local governments. Citizens and residents are taxed on worldwide income and allowed a credit for foreign taxes. Income subject to tax is determined under tax accounting rules, not financial accounting principles, and includes almost all income from whatever source. Most business expenses reduce taxable income, though limits apply to a few expenses. Individuals are permitted to reduce taxable income by personal allowances and certain nonbusiness expenses, including home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, charitable contributions, and medical and certain other expenses incurred above certain percentages of income. State rules for determining taxable income often differ from federal rules. Federal tax rates vary from 10% to 39.6% of taxable income. State and local tax rates vary widely by jurisdiction, from 0% to 13.30%, and many are graduated. State taxes are generally treated as a deductible expense for federal tax computation. In 2013, the top marginal tax rate for a high-income California resident would be 52.9%. Certain alternative taxes may apply.
In journalism, a human interest story is a feature story that discusses a person or people in an emotional way. It presents people and their problems, concerns, or achievements in a way that brings about interest, sympathy or motivation in the reader or viewer.
Human interest stories may be "the story behind the story" about an event, organization, or otherwise faceless historical happening, such as about the life of an individual soldier during wartime, an interview with a survivor of a natural disaster, a random act of kindness or profile of someone known for a career achievement.