The year was 1937, the heart of the Great Depression. During the previous decade, first under Herbert Hoover, then under Franklin Roosevelt, federal spending had climbed 170 percent; over the previous five years internal revenue collections had risen 198 percent. Concerned about the effect such expansion might have on private sector growth, a small group of business executives gathered in New York City to discuss how they could monitor fiscal activities at all levels of government and convey the information to the general public. They decided to launch an organization which, through research and analysis, could inform and educate Americans using objective, reliable data on government finance.
In the subsequent six decades, the Tax Foundation has done as much as—if not more than—any other group to promote a sense of "tax consciousness" in the public. Its distribution of information has helped provide policy makers with the lay of the land in the ongoing debate over tax and budget policies, as well as with a greater understanding of the policies proposed.
In its six decades, the Tax Foundation has earned a reputation for its independence in gathering data and publishing information on the public sector in an objective, unbiased fashion. As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational organization, the Tax Foundation exists on voluntary contributions from philanthropic foundations, corporations, and individuals across the country.
Why is the Tax Foundation unique?
Numerous groups conduct research on tax and budget policy. But the Tax Foundation is the only organization that: analyzes data from all levels of government; explores the effect of tax policy on businesses and individuals alike; and channels this information to the general public. In this way, the Tax Foundation serves as a national clearinghouse, providing Americans with a better understanding of their tax system and the effects of tax policy.
What does the Tax Foundation stand for?
As a nonpartisan educational organization, the Tax Founation does not represent any particular economic sector's point of view. Through the years the organization has earned a reputation for independence, and credibility. Yet the Foundation is not void of perspective. From its founding day the organization has committed itself to principles which guide its research and public information programs and which should be the touchstones for all tax policy.
Well Informed Citizenry. People must know who and what is being taxed and how tax legislation is enacted.
Simplicity. Complexity makes accurate tax compliance needlessly expensive and punitive.
Stability. Frequent change lessens citizen understanding of the tax code and complicates long-range financial planning.
No Retroactivity. Taxpayers must have confidence in the law as it exists entering into a transaction.
Neutrality. The primary purpose of taxes is to raise revenue, not to micromanage the economy with subsidies and penalties. The tax system should favor neither consumption nor saving and investment.
Promote Economic Growth. The U.S. tax system should not impede the free flow of goods, services, and capital, domestically or internationally.