Mother Jones

THE LITTLE TAX THAT COULD

How Hillary can rein in Big Finance—and win over Bernie’s supporters in the process

UNLESS YOU’RE ONE of the lucky few who live in Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon, you pay a sales tax on almost everything you buy. We’re all so used to the idea that it seems completely natural. And why not? Sales taxes are simple and cheap to collect, they raise a lot of money, and they’re pretty easy on consumers since we end up paying in tiny increments that are generally fairly painless. What’s more, because sales taxes are part of the broad family of consumption taxes, economists say they’re relatively efficient.

But they aren’t perfect. In particular, they hit the poor quite hard. “Sales and excise taxes are the most regressive element in most state and local tax systems,” says the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which examines state tax systems

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