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June 16, 2024 

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ABILITY-TO-PAY PRINCIPLE: A principle of taxation in which taxes are based on the income or resource-ownership ability of people to pay the tax. The income tax collected by our friends at the Internal Revenue Service is one of the most common taxes that seeks to abide by the ability-to-pay principle. In theory, the income tax system is set up such that people with greater incomes pay more taxes. Proportional and progressive taxes follow this ability-to-pay principle, while regressive taxes, such as sales taxes and Social Security taxes, don't.

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BALANCED BUDGET: An equality between the revenues and expenditures that constitute a budget. The notion of a budget is most important for governments, where revenues are taxes and expenditures are assorted public goods, administrative expenses, etc. While the federal government has been notorious for its failure to maintain a balanced budget, except for periods of unexpected prosperity, many state and local governments are very good at this sort of thing.

     See also | budget | government | taxes | public goods | budget deficit | budget surplus | federal deficit |


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BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

A comprehensive set of accounts that tracks the flow of currency and other monetary assets coming in to and going out of a nation. These payments are used for international trade, foreign investments, and other financial activities. The balance of payments is divided into two accounts -- current account (which includes payments for imports, exports, services, and transfers) and capital account (which includes payments for physical and financial assets). A deficit in one account is matched by a surplus in the other account. The balance of trade is only one part of the overall balance of payments set of accounts.

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