Marx on Taxation

Tax is not treated comprehensively in any of the major political-economy texts of Marx and Engels, but is instead covered piecemeal, predominantly in their journalism, occasionally in their letters. They supported progressive taxes, both on capital and income, had a strong preference for direct over indirect taxation, and back restrictions on inheritance. The tax landscape of Marx and Engels is clearly different to our own – in 1849, indirect taxes accounted for 40% of the Prussian Royal Finance Ministry total tax take, and direct taxes, only 29%, whereas today in the UK or Germany, indirect taxes are in the minority, with direct taxes generating around two-thirds of the total take. Indirect taxes are expected to account for 28% of the UK total tax take in 2018-19. The poorest UK households currently pay twice as much of their disposable income in indirect taxes, a clear driver of net income inequality.