Coming up with compelling research topics for a business or economics paper can be tough. Fortunately, the complicated tax code naturally generates a lot of questions. For your next research paper, think about issues of historical significance as well as how individuals and corporations are affected by state and federal taxes.
History of U.S. Taxation
Researching the beginnings of the U.S. tax system can take a student in a variety of directions. Researching the influence of taxation on the Revolutionary War against Britain could be one angle. To narrow the focus, consider writing about the first income tax -- the Revenue Act of 1861 -- adopted as an effort to fund the Civil War. You might also examine the adoption of the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allowed the government to impose income taxes without regard to previous stipulations, like the population of specific states.
Benefits of Tax Cuts
Look at the cause and effect relationship between tax cuts and short-term benefits. For instance, the Congressional Research Service conducted a study in 2012 about the effects of tax rates on economic growth. Findings indicated that certain types of tax cuts can help to create jobs in the short-run. For example, you could focus your paper specifically on whether middle-class and low-income tax cuts or cuts on wealthy individuals and businesses are more effective at sparking economic growth. Research specific instances in which tax cuts have positively affected growth and hypothesize about other tax cuts that could have similar, or even greater, impacts.
The government taxes the sale of various items, such as cigarettes, beer and wine. Compare which states receive the most and the least tax revenue from these special taxes. Where possible, analyze how that money is spent within a specific state and the history behind "sin taxes" -- or taxes on goods that have historically been considered to be vices. Alternatively, you could trace the timeline of one such tax being established and make an educated guess about what items might be similarly taxed in the future.
Comparing States' Taxes
Individual states levy a complicated combination of income, sales, corporate and excise taxes. Research the cheapest and most expensive states to live in, depending on certain situations. For example, according to the Tax Foundation's 2013 report, citizens in Connecticut paid the highest amount of state and local taxes per capita in 2011 at $6,984. On the other end of the spectrum, citizens of Mississippi paid the lowest amount, just $2,625. Make similar comparisons based on a percentage of income, rather than a fixed dollar amount. Another approach would be to ask the same question but in terms of corporate taxes for businesses. Determine which states are most favorable for business. Go a step further by researching companies that have relocated to that state in the last five years and, if publicly available, compare their tax liabilities before and after the move.