A progressive tax is a type of tax that takes a larger percentage of income from taxpayers as their income rises. An example is the federal income tax, where there are six marginal tax brackets ranging from 10% (lowest-income taxpayers) to 39.6% (highest-income taxpayers). Most state income taxes have a similar progressive structure.
A regressive tax is the exact opposite. Higher-income taxpayers pay a smaller percentage of their income than lower-income taxpayers because the tax is not based on ability to pay. An example is state sales tax, where everyone pays the same tax rate regardless of their income.
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