Public finance is the study of the role of the government in the economy. It is the branch of economics which assesses the government revenue and government expenditure of the public authorities and the adjustment of one or the other to achieve desirable effects and avoid undesirable ones.
The purview of public finance is considered to be threefold: governmental effects on (1) efficient allocation of resources, (2) distribution of income, and (3) macroeconomic stabilization.
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.
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:
International taxation is the study or determination of tax on a person or business subject to the tax laws of different countries or the international aspects of an individual country's tax laws. Governments usually limit the scope of their income taxation in some manner territorially or provide for offsets to taxation relating to extraterritorial income. The manner of limitation generally takes the form of a territorial, residency, or exclusionary system. Some governments have attempted to mitigate the differing limitations of each of these three broad systems by enacting a hybrid system with characteristics of two or more.
Many governments tax individuals and/or enterprises on income. Such systems of taxation vary widely, and there are no broad general rules. These variations create the potential for double taxation (where the same income is taxed by different countries) and no taxation (where income is not taxed by any country). Income tax systems may impose tax on local income only or on worldwide income. Generally, where worldwide income is taxed, reductions of tax or foreign credits are provided for taxes paid to other jurisdictions. Limits are almost universally imposed on such credits. Multinational corporations usually employ international tax specialists, a specialty among both lawyers and accountants, to decrease their worldwide tax liabilities.
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."
Amazon.com has been criticized for collecting sales taxes from customers in only the following sixteen U.S. states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. In response, several states have passed or are considering "Amazon tax" laws designed to compel Amazon to collect local sales and use taxes from customers. The U.S. has no federal sales tax.
In most countries where Amazon operates, a sales tax or value added tax is uniform throughout the country, and Amazon is obliged to collect it from all customers.
Most local governments in the United States impose a property tax as a principal source of revenue. This tax may be imposed on real estate or personal property. The tax is nearly always computed as the fair market value of the property times an assessment ratio times a tax rate. Values are determined by local officials, and may be disputed by property owners. A very important advantage of the property tax over the sales tax or income tax a tax is that the revenue always equals the tax levy, unlike the other taxes, which can result in shortfalls producing budget deficits. The property tax always produces the required revenue for municipalities' tax levies.
The tax is administered at the local government level. Many states impose limits on how local jurisdictions may tax property. Since many properties are subject to tax by more than one local jurisdiction, some states provide a method by which values are made uniform among such jurisdictions.
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.
A social issue (also called a social problem or a social situation) is an issue that relates to society's perception of a person's personal lives. Different cultures have different perceptions and what may be "normal" behavior in one society may be a significant social issue in another society. Social issues are distinguished from economic issues. Some issues have both social and economic aspects, such as immigration. There are also issues that don't fall into either category, such as wars.
Thomas Paine, in Rights of Man and Common Sense, addresses man's duty to "allow the same rights to others as we allow ourselves". The failure to do so causes the birth of a social issue.