Taxation: Then and Now

As I was reading about the colonists’ anger with Parliament for passing demanding taxes, I began to see similarities between the colonists and Americans today. People from both groups were, and are, angry with their government and annoyed with the amount of taxes they have to pay. Prior the American Revolution, colonists were angry at Parliament for taxing them without representation. They were also annoyed that they were being taxed to raise revenue to pay off Britain’s war debts instead of being taxed to benefit the welfare of the colonies. Taxes such as the Sugar Act of 1764, the Currency Act of 1764, and the Stamp Act of 1765 allowed British officials collect ten times as much money from the colonists annually than before 1763. These taxes ultimately contributed to the start of the American Revolution. Many Americans today are unhappy with tax policies as well. Some people think the US government is inefficient and wastes money; others disagree with its spending priorities. Some people think the US spends too much on the military and not enough on education, while others feel the opposite. Some Americans are choosing whom they want to vote for in the presidential election based on how they think the candidate will dictate tax policies. Even after 236 years and endless change, Americans are still upset about taxes.

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10 Responses to Taxation: Then and Now

  1. Krissy Bylancik says:

    Madison, I definitely see your point here, and I agree that people still are similarly frustrated with their government after so many years, and so many vast changes. That said, I think that it will always be hard to strike a balance wherein everyone is happy (or at least quiet) in a society and with a government like ours. We, as a society, foster the ideas of the people, and encourage people to have a say in their government. Because of this “for the people, by the people” and extremely democratic standard, it is hard to complain about having people speak out too much about the government. We are such a large and diverse country that I think it is hard to every have one idea or decision that everyone in the entire country agrees with. It is an interesting point you make about the fact that people still are unhappy with their government, but I feel that, when considering this idea, it is also important to take into account the vast size of our country, and the great freedoms that we have – if we were constrained and restricted, there would not be such great variance in opinion, and such loud outcry for change.

  2. Dr. K says:


    Do you think that people are complaining about taxes for the same fundamental reasons now as they were during the Revolution?

    • Madison says:

      Dr. K,
      Yes, but mostly no. Yes, people are complaining about taxes for the same fundamental reasons now as they were during the Revolution in the sense that they are still angry about the amount of taxes and about being taxed at all. Aside from this reason, the fundamental reasons for complaints about taxes are mostly different. Colonists were angry because they were taxed without being represented in Parliament. Today, every citizen can vote and is therefore represented, so this is not an issue. Instead, some Americans now are upset about where tax dollars go, and also which income groups are taxed which amount.

  3. Dr. K says:

    I would agree with you, which has potential implications. Tea Party groups today very explicitly put themselves in the tradition of the American Revolution (thus the name). Would you agree with that, or say (as with taxes) that there is a fundamental difference?

    • Madison says:

      There is definitely a fundamental difference between today’s Tea Party groups and the colonists who dumped tea in Boston Harbor. The colonists wanted representation in government, while Tea Party groups today want a more limited government. The colonists’ fight about taxes was about the lack of representation in Parliament, while today’s Tea Party groups are anti-taxation and hold many other conservative positions.

  4. dharbeck says:

    Madison, this is a very interesting point, but part of me believes there may never be a time when people are satisfied paying taxes. I think there will always be those who complain about taxation with representation simply because nobody wants to pay taxes.

  5. ageyelin2015 says:

    I agree with David. Regardless of what new policies, cuts, or regulations are in place, people will always be upset in some way over the concept of the government taking what they have earned through their work. There will always be a group of people that wants taxes lowered; no matter what the existing rate is, people will demand less because they believe they can attain less. Even if the taxation during the American Revolution was without representation, I believe that citizens will never be completely satisfied (as a society, not as individuals) with the idea of being taxed.

  6. Ross Musicant says:

    People will never be happy about paying taxes. Some will understand the reasoning for the taxing that the government is issuing, but given the choice, I’m sure nobody would want to pay taxes. Everybody would rather save their money than spend it, naturally. Even back during the American Revolution, they complained about being taxed without having any representation in Parliament. I believe that they would’ve still found an argument against taxing that the British issued because we have representation today, yet everybody still tries to get the government to lower taxes.

  7. Montgomery says:

    Madison, I think you make very good points that even during the American Revolution, Americans were just as unhappy with taxes as they are now. I completely agree with Ross, that people will never like taxes and I think that is something that we are always going to have to live with. I still believe though there are major differences between the taxes during the American Revolution and the taxes found now. Now we have representatives from each state that are here to represent us and make sure we are tax fairly, even though many people may not believe we are being taxed fairly, I think it will always be hard for people to believe they are being taxed fairly unless it is specifically catered to them.

  8. Nicola says:

    Madison has brought up some great points about taxation then and now. I think that under any circumstance people are going to be angry with taxes. I agree with what everyone so far has said. People will be upset with taxes no matter the reason. So in the American Revolution the colonists opposed taxes because they had no representation in Parliament. Now Americans are upset about taxing because they don’t agree with where the money is going. No one is ever going to be satisfied with taxation.

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