Historical context for the current debate over tax reform. In his "Truth, Politics and Power" series, former NPR host Neal Conan explores the ways our tax system evolved, and why.
Tariffs and excise taxes funded the government in the 18th and 19th century, until an income tax came on board during the Civil War and was made permanent in World War II. Is our tax system fair? Was it ever? Who decides what's fair?
• Poll: Americans underestimate how many people pay zero income taxes • Fact check: Does the U.S. have the highest corporate tax rate in the world?
Neal Conan's guests are:
Joseph Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts. Author of "The Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR."
Molly Michelmore, associate professor of history at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Author of "Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics and the Limits of American Liberalism."
Click the audio player above to listen to the program.