The Income Structure of the United States

The Income Structure of the United States

The Income Structure of the United States

The Income Structure of the United States

Excerpt

To the average individual who gets his living in the form of a pay envelope or salary check, supplemented perhaps by a few cash items derived from property ownership, "income" seems to be a word of plain and unmistakable meaning. This simple view, however, is not shared by the man of wealth who sits down to balance his books for the year and to make out his annual income tax return. Besides a greater number of cash receipts and disbursements which have to be computed, allocated, and offset against each other, there are a large number of other items which involve valuations to be placed on property rights, intangible burdens or benefits to be imputed, and nice questions to be decided as to the times and places at which particular values may be said to have accrued. But even when a figure acceptable to the accountant and to the income tax collector has been arrived at, it may not conform to the economist's concept of income or be adequate for expressing the whole of that concept.

When we pass from the complicated but still relatively manageable problem of individual income to the much more elusive but highly important task of analyzing national income, additional and even larger difficulties are encountered. And yet many questions of public policy, legislative action, business decision, or even individual conduct are settled upon or influenced by our knowledge or beliefs as to the total amount of national income, the sources from which it is derived, its distribution among geographical areas, sectors of business, claims of participation and beneficial right. Hence it becomes . . .

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