Two government budget practices that can have significant implications for lower levels of government are block grants and unfunded mandates.
Grandparents and other relatives play an important caregiving role in family well-being. Support from extended family is especially vital in families with low incomes.
Policymakers use the tax system to raise revenue and to promote social policy goals. For example, they may want to encourage desirable behaviors, such as home ownership.
At the federal level, there are two categories of budgetary expenditures: entitlement and discretionary spending.
How to improve the tax code is the subject of much debate. Proponents of reform often call for increasing fairness and simplicity.
There are two main ways for governments to collect taxes. One is by taxing income directly. This is known as an income tax. The other is taxing only income that is spent.
Currently, some types of income are either taxed at lower rates than ordinary income or are exempt from taxation to some degree.
In general, only cash income is subject to the income tax. In-kind benefits—benefits that are received as goods or services rather than as cash—are not.
Tax credits and deductions are two ways to reduce tax liability. Tax credits directly reduce the amount of taxes owed, dollar-for-dollar.
The federal estate tax was enacted in 1916 in an effort to raise revenues. Its intent was also to reduce the concentration of wealth, thus increasing economic equality.