There are two days this year when millions of adults like you play pivotal roles as Americans. The first is April 15, when you pay your taxes. The second is November 6, when you vote for the people you want to spend them.

If you're like most of us, you’ll pick your candidates mainly by how much you like and trust them—their smiles, their voices, your sense of their integrity and capacity to lead. But policy issues also affect your choice. You’ll want to know where they stand on Iraq, terrorism, unemployment, Social Security, federal deficits. And on lots of social issues—involving housing, health care, education, marriage, and much more.

All of which means that you’d better remember April 15 when November 6 comes around. Why? Because our tax laws cut across all of American life. Except for the U.S. Constitution, they represent the most comprehensive expression of our government’s official values. What these laws tax or exempt, reward or ignore, crucially shape who we are as a nation and what we will become.

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#1: How Progressive Tax Rates Work

The Myth & Misconception: Under our system of progressive income tax rates, the highest tax rate that you reach becomes the tax rate for all of your income.

QUESTION #2

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Comments about Fox's Books:

About 10 Tax Questions the Candidates Don't Want You to Ask (2004 edition):

John Fox has an unerring sense for ferreting out aspects of the tax system that are sorely in need of questioning. From tax benefits targeted to people in need—and then denied to the most needy—to laws that subsidize the mansions of the rich but collect taxes from poor single individuals, he has identified issues that should be raised with every candidate. And he has done this in a remarkably clear, and entertaining, fashion."

Jane Gravelle, Chief Economist, Congressional Research Service, U.S. Congress

About John O. Fox

John O. Fox spent 36 years wrestling with the tax laws as a lawyer in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the highly praised book If Americans Really Understood the Income Tax (Westview, 2001). Mr. Fox has commented frequently about tax issues on radio and television, and his articles on what’s right and wrong with the U.S. revenue system have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and many other newspapers. For over 25 years, he taught "Winners and Losers," a course on U.S. tax policy at Mount Holyoke College.

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