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Federal Taxation in America
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Book description

This authoritative and readable survey is a comprehensive historical overview of federal taxation and fiscal policy in the United States, extending from the era of the American Revolution to the present day. Brownlee relates the principal stages of federal taxation to the crises that led to their adoption, including but not limited to: the formation of the republic, the Civil War, World War I and II, and the challenges to government that took hold during the 1980s. In this third edition, Brownlee adds four new chapters covering the colonial era, the American Revolution, the Civil War, the 1920s, and the post-1945 era including the tax policies of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. It features expanded discussion of government expenditures, deficits and debt, public resources, counter-cyclical fiscal policy, and state and local taxation. Its interdisciplinary interpretation makes it perfect for scholars, graduate students and advanced undergraduate students.


'Brownlee has long been the Dean of tax historians in this country and Federal Taxation in America has been an indispensable resource for generations of scholars. By capturing the broad themes without leaving the reader lost in a sea of minutiae, it is both sophisticated and accessible. Even in its third edition, the book remains as fresh and insightful as it ever was. Indeed, in examining the latest tax regime, which Brownlee dubs retro-liberal, and situating it within the broader history of taxation, the book may say as much about the future of taxation as it does about the past.'

Steven A. Bank Source: Paul Hastings Professor of Business Law, University of California, Los Angeles

'In this important new work, Elliot Brownlee, the country’s leading authority on federal taxation, traces the evolution of American tax policy starting with the varied tax regimes in the colonies of British North America and proceeding right down to the present day. His analyses of the various 'systems' we have put into place over time are always incisive, none more so than his critique of the 'retro-liberal' system we are living under today. An indispensable study.'

Peter A. Coclanis - Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

'There is no better overview of the history of taxation in America. The first edition of this book inspired a generation of historians and social scientists. The new edition is packed with a career’s worth of insights, and it will no doubt set the agenda for the next generation of scholarship on the modern American fiscal state.'

Isaac Martin - University of California, San Diego

'The definitive history of American public finance, elegantly written by the field's leading scholar. An indispensable guide to the​ history and politics of American taxation.'

Joseph Thorndike - Northwestern University, Illinois

'With rigor and balance, Brownlee (California-Santa Barbara) considers federal taxation from the British colonial system into the current fiscal paralysis and the early part of the 2016 presidential campaign. … For historians, economists, lawyers, and others, there is no better source for understanding the development of the federal tax system. … Summing Up: Essential.'

J. L. Mikesell Source: Choice

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