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Working Paper, No. 98-16, 1998
Can the Benefits Principle Be Applied to State-local Taxation of Business?

The benefits approach to taxation prescribes that taxes should fashioned so as to mimic market prices. That is, much like user charges or user fees, a business firm's tax liability would accord with benefits received from the services provided by government--be they roads, refuse disposal, law enforcement services, etc. It has been argued by tax analysts that the benefits principle is a much superior basis on which to fashion business taxation, the competing principle being that tax liabilities should reflect individuals' ability to pay, much like personal income taxes which are often structured so that tax payments are higher for those individuals with higher yearly income. The reasons for preferring a benefits approach to taxing business are exactly because business firms are not individuals.



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