By: Nathan Lewis
all contents copyright Nathan Lewis 2005-2013

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"Easily the most important book of 2013 ... and the best book on money that's yet been written"
-- John Tamny (

Want a basic introduction? Watch a thirty-minute presentation given at the Cato Institute in February 2014,
or this
two-minute video on how to introduce and use a parallel currency.

Read my previous book, Gold: the Once and Future Money (2007), available in five languages worldwide.

I'm on Twitter @NathanNWE
Click Here for the Traditional City/Heroic Materialism Archive

Forbes Item:
April 30, 2015: Rubio's Tax Plan Is the Seed of Something Better

Some Facts About U.S. State and Local Tax History

May 3, 2015

We saw last week that there has been a steady rise in general government tax revenue/GDP since 1950, which might have peaked around 2000. However, this rise came mostly from the side of state and local tax revenue. Federal revenue has been essentially flat during that time, with a slight recent trend downwards since 2000.

April 19, 2015: A Few Facts About U.S. Tax History

State (and local) sales tax rates have risen, but, as we will see, this has not generated much extra revenue.

The figures are a little higher than you might expect. I'm not sure of how Vertex computes these rates. They might include excise taxes on things like gasoline, liquor, tobacco, hotels, restaurants, rental cars, airports, telecommunications, etc. etc. which are simply targeted sales taxes.

Here's another version, from the Tax Foundation:

In any case, the main point is that the trend has been higher. Here's a bit of recent history on sales and excise taxes, 2000-2014:

Most state sales taxes date from the 1930s:

Here's a nice look at Federal, State and Local revenue since 1900. This data comes from, which is a good source.

We see that Local taxes were the primary source of tax revenue in 1900. This is related to state-funded schooling, which spread in the late 19th century. Both State and Local taxes have a big falloff in World War II. There must have been some kind of transfer from the State and Local level to the Federal level. This data set is very jiggy around the 2009 recession, especially for State tax revenues.

One of the things you will notice here is that State and Local "revenue" is much higher than "tax revenue", in the preceding chart. This pushes the Federal, State and Local total well over 30%. Quite a lot of State and Loca revenue is not tax revenue.

"Other revenue" accounts for 42% of State and 52% of Local revenue. Some of this is things like traffic tickets, which have evolved into little more than an extortion racket. Utility revenue is things like water and sewage, which is probably pretty benign. "Insurance trust revenue" is primarily contributions to pension programs from government employees.

Here is the info on tax revenues:

Plainly a lot of rise here, while revenues at the Federal level have been flat.

Some big increases in State sales and excise taxes, actually beginning in the 1920s in this chart despite that "sales taxes" were not formally adopted until after 1933. Higher rates (see Vertex data above) since 1980 have not led to any increase in revenue/GDP.

Finally, here's some info on local property taxes:

A strange burst here in the 1920s, in this data series. Pretty flat (in terms of revenue) since 1950. Of course, this doesn't mean that tax rates have been flat.

Recent Commentary:

Click Here for the Traditional City/Heroic Materialism Archive
Click Here for the How Banks Work series
Click Here for the NWE Six-Month Ultimate Health and Fitness Program

April 17, 2015: Book Review: 'Popular Economics' Lays Out The Principles Of Success While Talking Basketball
April 12, 2015: Narrow Streets for People 4: Organizing the Street
April 3, 2015: The Greek Government's Revenue Would Rise -- Immediately -- After Tax Reform
March 26, 2015: Greece Needs the Magic Formula to Become the Wealthiest Country in the Eurozone
March 22, 2015: Narrow Streets for People 3: A Shopping Center Example

March 19, 2015: Greece Could Rise To Greatness, Or Become The Next Venezuela
March 15, 2015: Narrow Streets for People 2: Subtleties of Street Width
March 12, 2015: Greece's Syriza Could Launch a Libertarian Revolution
March 8, 2015: Narrow Streets for People
February 26, 2015: Greece's Monetary Options
February 13, 2015: $15,000 Gold and the Madness of Murray Rothbard

February 1, 2015: Let's Look at the ECB's Balance Sheet
January 30, 2015: When Even the Fed Is Confused, We Still Have Some Work To Do
January 22, 2015: "Helicopter Money and Debt Cancellation" Are the Endgame