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The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln--Teddy Roosevelt--Wilson How the Income Tax Transformed America

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  24 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
A major work of history, The Great Tax Wars is the gripping, epic story of six decades of often violent conflict over wealth, power, and fairness that gave America the income tax. It's the story of a tumultuous period of radical change, from Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War through the progressive era under Theodore Roosevelt and ending with Woodrow Wilson and World War I ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 3rd 2004 by Simon Schuster (first published October 26th 2004)
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Chris
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Great Tax Wars recounts the multi-decade battle to enact the Federal Income Tax. That sentence may not be an attention-grabber for most people, but I assure you this book is far more fascinating than you think.

There were three attempts to enact an income tax to replace the century-old tariff structure that financed the Federal government (at the benefit of domestic producers and at the expense of consumers and the working poor). First, an income tax was enacted during the Civil War, when Lin
...more
Jack
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
A really helpful book on the history of the income tax in America (and in learning about tariffs and estate taxes too - it's all related).
Weisman leans to the left, so it's more of a "how the income tax is good for America," but I think at it's most basic level, the income tax is good for America and most Americans of most ideologies recognize that. Of course, that's not to say we like paying it. If we voluntarily paid our taxes, well, then we would have to call it something else. Anyway, the b
...more
Robert
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Weisman wrote a thorough, comprehensive history of the rise of the personal income tax (and to a lesser extent, the corporate income tax). Generally, the book covers from 1860 (the Civil War) until 1920 (the end of WWI). I learned that the debates and fights over the federal income tax (and income taxes generally, probably) have been exactly the same for 150 years. Questions of fairness and disincentive were raised then, and are asked now. It really is remarkable how much the opponents and propo ...more
Michael
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Great Tax Wars recounts the American icons who fought the legislative, electoral, and public opinion battles over the income tax from 1860 to 1920. The book sheds light on what would become one of the most simultaneously boring and consequential debates of the 20th Century: Who should pay taxes, and how much?

Author Steven Weisman begins with the election of Abraham Lincoln and the run up to the Civil War, and concludes with Woodrow Wilson's exit from the White House and the end of World War
...more
Jerrod Hansen
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book on several levels. The obvious history of U.S. federal taxation legislation is in and of itself interesting to me. The author succeeds at personalizing these "tax wars" through the politicians fighting them and setting a rich stage incorporating world events and social trends of each era. Conflict and war are at the root of tax policy and he demonstrates the effect warfare has on national finances, then the lesson legislators attempt to learn from each incident. It's a fun ri ...more
B
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
more interesting early on when the tax was novel and tariffs were dominant. interesting contrasts with present day. book whiffs on underlying thesis: why did top marginal rate become top political issue? no answer here to timely question.
Stefan
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fascinating history of the income tax confirms progressive tax system is necessary for economic stability and even social justice.
Scott Ford
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
An examination of the development of the modern American tax system. Covers history from the Civil War to WWI. A very interesting read.
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