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The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay
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The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  651 ratings  ·  93 reviews
America’s runaway inequality has an engine: our unjust tax system.

Even as they became fabulously wealthy, the ultra-rich have seen their taxes collapse to levels last seen in the 1920s. Meanwhile, working-class Americans have been asked to pay more. The Triumph of Injustice presents a forensic investigation into this dramatic transformation, written by two economists who r
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by W. W. Norton Company
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it's me alex The authors are French, and they offer an international perspective in each chapter of the book. For most of the book they are mapping ideological tre…moreThe authors are French, and they offer an international perspective in each chapter of the book. For most of the book they are mapping ideological trends in the way we think about taxes. While the U.S. provides an extreme example of these ideological shifts, the trends are present across the world in varying degrees. A basic understanding of recent (past 50 years) American politics is sort of assumed, and the specific policy proposals put forward towards the end of the book have the U.S. in mind. However, the majority of the book is a look at how taxes are— and have been— avoided on an international level.(less)

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Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
basically just read this to argue with my d*d
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must-read!! I want to shout this on the Rooftop with a megaphone: our tax system is totally regressive. The wealthy evade taxes. They pay less than their share! This does not have to be the case. We, the middle class and working class, can’t evade taxes and yet we the idiots keep voting for people who let corporations and billionaires escape to tax shelters. The history in this book (though super short) was really fascinating. Hey, guess why our tax system is regressive? It’s the same reason f ...more
Richard Thompson
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I already know too much about taxes and tax avoidance schemes to have found most of the historical and background material to be very informative. I work on a lot of deals where an essential part of the deal structuring is to ensure tax efficiency. Sometimes this is picking a structure designed to put more money in my client's pocket, but more often it is about avoiding tax traps that can destroy legitimate transactions, if the traps are not identified and structured around. This kind of tax pla ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding book and a must read for anyone interested in inequality and options for what to do about it. The authors are economics professors at Berkeley and both work with Thomas Piketty.

I had heard from various sources about this work and that it is the best work around right now linking economic theory, comprehensive analysis of available, international comparisons, and some actual wisdom in how to put it all together and say something. After working through it, I agree and highly
Kristoffer Berg
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book contains many impressive new findings on the distribution of the tax burden and some very good tax reform suggestions. It is written more for the general public than tax experts, but it would still have benefitted from fewer comments on current politics and more discussion on the assumptions they make.
Ron Boger
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good economic analysis and history of taxation and its outcomes. Well researched and principled with good points. Can be boiled down to:
- inequality is worthwhile to solve for policy makers
- current taxes are flat/regressive in the US + Europe because labour is taxed more than capital. This can be fixed with taxing capital more, curbing tax evasion and anything against the economic substance doctrine (which is hard because there's an entire tax industry built around this), and a wealth tax. Heal
Ali علی
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent piece of work. The history, the present and the possible future of the American taxation system outlined brilliantly in accessible and readable prose.

Of course their account presumes that the American capitalism is reformable.
Nick Klagge
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
In my review of Gabriel Zucman's "The Hidden Wealth of Nations," I commented that his treatment of corporate tax evasion through the use of offshore incorporation felt cursory, and I wished he would have given it a separate book. He hasn't done that exactly, but here, with co-author Emmanuel Saez, he treats the overall progressivity of the US tax system over time, very much including corporate taxation.

Saez and Zucman are both proteges of Thomas Piketty, and I have to say I think they have impr
Jacobus Cilliers
A must-read for anyone concerned about inequality in the USA (and for anyone who thinks inequality is not a concern, for that matter). Emmanuel Saez writes exceptionally well, and it is a surprisingly easy read for what should be a boring topic: taxation. The results from his detailed analysis and careful construction of data is shocking: the past three decades of growth have only benefited the top 1% of the US, and the income for the bottom half of the country was flat, or falling. AS a result ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, nonfiction
This book presents a detailed and meticulously researched analysis of current tax policy in the United States and other modern economies, then suggests how such policies can be changed to support progressive revenue goals. As such it is likely to be largely ignored, which is too bad since it's well-written and clearly represents a lot of thought and effort by the authors.

There are a lot of numbers, quite a bit of economic analysis, and a good amount of public policy in this book. I'm enough of a
Zoltan Pogatsa
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is probably better than Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century. At least it is not as longwinded. :)
It is not simply a book about offshore. It's more about neoliberalism, inequalities, AND offshore. Kind of like a combination of the Piketty book and Zucman's Hidden Wealth of Nations.
It starts off by discussing how FDR actually had a very high top rate of PIT for a reason: to stop people from growing too rich to buy up a democracy. Which is exactly what happened one Reagan/Thatcher etc.
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The authors are professors of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, and have the gift of writing in language that is understandable by the rest of us!
Their work is a clarion call for the restoration of a viable tax structure that will adequately fund the needs of the people of this nation, allowing us to enjoy a more equal and flourishing society. They provide both a devastating account of how the progressive tax system set up during the New Deal — and which continued through t
Fraser Kinnear
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Often, I’ll read a political or policy non-fiction that seeks to either place blame on today’s problems on some group, or contextualize our problems with a history lesson, or both. Recent examples on the right are “The Age of Entitlement”, “The Decadent Society”, “Coming Apart”, and “How Do I Tax Thee?”. On the left, “Why We’re Polarized”, “Us Vs Them”, “The Once and Future Liberal”, and “Goliath”. In the center, “The Big Sort”, “American Carnage”, and “America’s Bitter Pill”. These authors will ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting book for anyone who wants to know more about the rampant economic inequalities in the USA, and the runaway mechanisms behind it, in a context of an increasing global tax competition and tax evasion.

I decided to read this book after completing the « Capital in the XXIth century » by Thomas Pikkety. The latter got me enthusiastic by his thorough research on economic inequalities, blending historical narrative and economic theories, along with an impressive data collection over
Richard Smyth
Well researched & well written explanation of how the rich pay proportionally much less tax than low earners

Thought provoking insights as to how the tax burden has shifted over the last 50 years from high net worth high earning individuals to the lower paid. I5 also explains how multinationals have used accounting and legal tricks to move profits to low tax jurisdictions. The real issue is that the wealthy control the power to change this but never will because they have so much to lose.
Jason Furman
(I will be doing a longer review in the future and will link to it here.)
Richard Marney
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
The authors have made significant contributions to our understanding of the causes and effects of income and wealth inequality. This book is a continuation of that important work.

The role of government tax policy since Reagan has transformed America. The county of my youth (1st grade in the last year of the Eisenhower Administration) had high marginal tax rates for high incomes, strong growth, and limited tax game-playing. Whilst there were serious societal problems (most notably, deplorable ra
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well documented description of how the current tax system in the US in exacerbating inequality and how it can be fixed. The authors describe the history of taxing income and wealth. They show that since the 80s the tax system is favouring those at the top of the income and wealth distribution. Currently, the US tax system is flat and becomes regressive at the very top. This is because the divindends, interest, and other sources of wealth that the rich rely on are effectively taxed at a lowe ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite the sensationalist title, this is actually a pretty serious book, though Saez and Zucman have strong left-of-center views. The first chapter is the most important, as it presents new data analysis on the share of taxes paid by all income quantiles since 1913. The stark news here is that the very very top, the 0.01 percent, have a lower tax bill than anybody else, largely due to the Trump cuts of the corporate income tax. The rest of the book summarizes earlier research by them and others ...more
Graeme Newell
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book really helped me to better understand the history and opportunities of tax policy.

Ronald Reagan’s 1980 tax revolt was intended to free Americans from burdensome taxation. Those policies dramatically reduced taxes, but unfortunately, just for one group of Americans - the rich. The author tells a fascinating story of how the most anticipated tax reform movement in recent history transferred a big tax burden on to middle and lower class Americans.

Reagan’s vilification of all forms of tax
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Chilling and infuriating. The authors do a great job of explaining tax justice in easy, readable prose.
Matthew Kilpatrick
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: how-things-work
Can't recommend this book enough. Rather than being a Daily Kos-style Hallmark Card Liberal style screed, as one might expect, the authors (who clearly know their subject matter well), lay out a thoughtful, powerful and convincing case using real statistics and historical as well as contemporary real-world examples.
Eric Bottorff
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Nothing especially revelatory here if you’re well-versed in these issues. But if you’re not, this a solid introduction.
Eric Means
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, finance
Absolutely worth reading to understand a) how inequality got to the massively messed up place we're in now, b) how it wasn't always this way, and c) how we can absolutely fix the problem, given enough political will.
Thomas Matich
Not as academic or expansive as Thomas Piketty’s “Capital” - yet it serves as an actionable flashpoint and handbook for progressive candidates such as Warren and Sanders. The writers were even mentioned with disdain in the grotesque Open letter penned by financier Leon Cooperman to Warren; in a recent avalanche of ego bruised billionaire snowflakes. If this book is pissing off the 1%, they are doing something right!
Jökull Auðunsson
Brilliant data driven investigation of inequality

Focused investigation using national income to see just how surprisingly regressive the US tax code is. Stark reminder that tax justice is a decision, and injustice is in no way unavoidable in a globalized world.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
An inspiring reading. People need to wake up from the right wing economic brain wash
Masayuki Arai
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
persuasive lol
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For once this is a book that shows a problem in society but also presents solutions. When I finished I had hope that there was a way beyond our current predicament. Whether the political will exists to address the problem or not is another matter, but there are solutions to our regressive taxation system. There were also many interesting facts in the book that I didn't know, such as the hidden private taxes and the sum of all taxes that show the regressive nature of our taxation system.
Ernie Lavagetto
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What seems radical is really a call to look back to time when the US middle class was vibrant.

The book is a review of the US taxation history and it's effect on US society as well as comparisons to other countries. The time frame is basically from 1950 to the current time. I am a retired CPA . I have seen these changes first hand and ,to my shame, thought they were for the best. However in the last 20 years, I have come to see the terrible damage done to American families as they tried to deal w
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96 likes · 34 comments
“Development is not primarily a matter of mechanically collecting taxes to fund spending, no matter how useful this spending may be. Development is about building trust in institutions, including, most importantly, governments. When governments take more from the poor than from the wealthy, sustained trust becomes impossible.” 1 likes
“This line of defense is still at the core of today’s tax-dodging industry. But it was wrong when J. P. Morgan advanced it and it is wrong now. Why? Because the law of the United States—like that of most other countries—contains a set of provisions, known as the economic substance doctrine, that make illegal any transaction that has no other purpose than a reduction of tax liability.” 0 likes
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