Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877–1929

Mehrotra, Ajay K.


Publication by 2013 DPDF Public Finance and Society: The New Historical Fiscal Sociology Research Director Ajay K. Mehrotra.

Making the Modern American Fiscal State chronicles the rise of the US system of direct and progressive taxation. Ajay K. Mehrotra provides historical perspective on the intellectual, legal, and administrative foundations of the current US tax regime. In doing so, he uncovers the contested roots and paradoxical consequences of a fundamental transformation in American tax law and policy that took place at the turn of the twentieth century. He argues that the move toward a regime of direct and graduated taxation marked the emergence of a new fiscal polity—a new form of statecraft guided not only by the functional need for greater revenue but also by broader social concerns about equity, fiscal citizenship, bureaucratic authority, and economic justice. This book explores what tax reformers at the turn of the twentieth century were able to accomplish and how their limited achievements were contested at nearly every turn.