Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Federal Taxation in America
A History

3rd Edition

$29.99 (G)

Award Winner
  • Date Published: July 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107492561

$ 29.99 (G)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This authoritative and readable survey is a comprehensive historical overview of federal taxation and fiscal policy in the United States, extending from the era of the American Revolution to the present day. Brownlee relates the principal stages of federal taxation to the crises that led to their adoption, including but not limited to: the formation of the republic, the Civil War, World War I and II, and the challenges to government that took hold during the 1980s. In this third edition, Brownlee adds four new chapters covering the colonial era, the American Revolution, the Civil War, the 1920s, and the post-1945 era including the tax policies of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. It features expanded discussion of government expenditures, deficits and debt, public resources, counter-cyclical fiscal policy, and state and local taxation. Its interdisciplinary interpretation makes it perfect for scholars, graduate students and advanced undergraduate students.

    • Clear periodization and broad chronological scope helps readers understand the development of taxation and its role in major historical periods
    • Non-technical language and broad topical scope helps non-expert readers understand the role of taxation in the development of the United States
    • Representation of economics, political science, law, and other disciplines presents an interdisciplinary study of fiscal history and political economy
    Read more


    • Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Brownlee has long been the Dean of tax historians in this country and Federal Taxation in America has been an indispensable resource for generations of scholars. By capturing the broad themes without leaving the reader lost in a sea of minutiae, it is both sophisticated and accessible. Even in its third edition, the book remains as fresh and insightful as it ever was. Indeed, in examining the latest tax regime, which Brownlee dubs retro-liberal, and situating it within the broader history of taxation, the book may say as much about the future of taxation as it does about the past."
    Steven A. Bank, Paul Hastings Professor of Business Law, University of California, Los Angeles

    "In this important new work, Elliot Brownlee, the country’s leading authority on federal taxation, traces the evolution of American tax policy starting with the varied tax regimes in the colonies of British North America and proceeding right down to the present day. His analyses of the various "systems" we have put into place over time are always incisive, none more so than his critique of the "retro-liberal" system we are living under today. An indispensable study."
    Peter A. Coclanis, Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    "There is no better overview of the history of taxation in America. The first edition of this book inspired a generation of historians and social scientists. The new edition is packed with a career’s worth of insights, and it will no doubt set the agenda for the next generation of scholarship on the modern American fiscal state."
    Isaac Martin, University of California, San Diego

    "The definitive history of American public finance, elegantly written by the field's leading scholar. An indispensable guide to the​ history and politics of American taxation."
    Joseph Thorndike, Northwestern University, Illinois

    'With rigor and balance, Brownlee (California-Santa Barbara) considers federal taxation from the British colonial system into the current fiscal paralysis and the early part of the 2016 presidential campaign. … For historians, economists, lawyers, and others, there is no better source for understanding the development of the federal tax system. … Summing Up: Essential.' J. L. Mikesell, Choice

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Edition: 3rd Edition
    • Date Published: July 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107492561
    • dimensions: 231 x 153 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Anglo-American regimes, 1607–1788
    2. Creating a modern fiscal state, 1788–1861
    3. The Civil War regime, 1861–1916
    4. The World War I regime, 1916–35
    5. Roosevelt's regimes, 1935–45
    6. The era of easy finance, 1945–80
    7. 'Reagan Revolution', 1980–86
    8. Fiscal consolidation and revival of the old tax regime, 1986–2000
    9. Victory for a retro-liberal regime, 2000–9
    10. Fiscal paralysis, 2009–15.

  • Author

    W. Elliot Brownlee, University of California, Santa Barbara
    W. Elliot Brownlee's books include The Political Economy of Transnational Tax Reform: The Shoup Mission to Japan (co-edited), Federal Taxation in America: A Short History, The Reagan Presidency: Pragmatic Conservatism and its Legacies (co-edited), Funding the Modern American State: The Rise and Fall of the Era of Easy Finance, 1941–1995, Dynamics of Ascent: A History of the American Economy, Women in the American Economy: A Documentary History, 1675–1929 (with Mary M. Brownlee), and Progressivism and Economic Growth: The Wisconsin Income Tax, 1911–1929. Brownlee has held visiting professor appointments at Princeton University, New Jersey, the University of Tokyo, and Yokohama National University, Japan. He was a Bicentennial Lecturer, the US Department of the Treasury and has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Charles Warren Center, Harvard University, Massachusetts.


    • Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.