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Value Added Taxes

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Value Added Taxes

A value-added tax (VAT) is a fee that is assessed against businesses by a government at various points in the production of goods or services, usually any time a product is resold or value is added to it. For tax purposes, value is added whenever the value of a product increases as a result of the application of a company's factors of production, such as labor and equipment. With VAT, the taxable amount is based on the value added at each stage of the process of producing goods and bringing them to market. By imposing a tax on receipts but then allowing a credit for VAT taxes collected at earlier stages of production, the credit-invoice VAT taxes the “value added” by each business. The total tax, regardless of the stage of production at which it was collected, ends up being added to the final sales price. No matter how many steps there are in the production process, a fixed percent of the final price of the product would represent the value-added tax, just as a retail sales tax is a fixed percent of the final product price. However, unlike a sales tax, the cost of the VAT to consumers would be hidden. Unless politicians took the unlikely step of requiring retailers to state explicitly the portion of the sales price that is due to the VAT, consumers would be unaware of the tax (Wikipedia Encyclopedia).

The concept of VAT was first adopted by France in 1954. By 2000, it was used by Canada and 40 other industrialized countries. In most cases, the percentage of tax charged varies based on the necessity of the particular product, so the tax on food would generally be less than the tax on luxury items like boats. In recent years, VAT has been proposed for use in the United States as a way to simplify business and personal income tax laws. Proponents claim that VAT would replace other forms of taxation and reduce the costs of tax compliance. In fact, some people say that adopting VAT would eliminate tax returns for individuals and make the Internal Revenue Service obsolete. On the other hand, opponents argue that VAT would be more complicated to implement than other tax-reform options, such as a national sales tax. They also worry that it would increase the cost of food, medicine, and other necessities, which would hurt the poor. A value-added tax has a flat tax rate rather a progressive one.
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