Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged

Front Cover
University of California Press, Feb 27, 2011 - Social Science - 264 pages
This book looks at the way we tax the poor in the United States, particularly in the American South, where poor families are often subject to income taxes, and where regressive sales taxes apply even to food for home consumption. Katherine S. Newman and Rourke L. O’Brien argue that these policies contribute in unrecognized ways to poverty-related problems like obesity, early mortality, the high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, and crime. They show how, decades before California’s passage of Proposition 13, many southern states implemented legislation that makes it almost impossible to raise property or corporate taxes, a pattern now growing in the western states. Taxing the Poor demonstrates how sales taxes intended to replace the missing revenue—taxes that at first glance appear fair—actually punish the poor and exacerbate the very conditions that drove them into poverty in the first place.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


1 The Evolution of Southern Tax Structures
Inertia Supermajorities and Constitutional Amendments
3 The Geography of Poverty
4 Tax Traps and Regional Poverty Regimes
5 The Bottom Line
Are We Our Brothers Keepers?
Appendix I How Many Lags of x?
Appendix II Tables

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Katherine S. Newman is James B. Knapp Dean of the Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Among her many books are Falling From Grace, No Shame in My Game, Rampage and The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America. Rourke L. O’Brien is a graduate student in sociology and social policy at Princeton University and a non-resident fellow of the New America Foundation.

Bibliographic information