What’s Not Working and Why There’s Cause for Hope

The future is here, and if you’re having trouble keeping up, you’re not alone. Despite overall economic growth in the U.S. since recovering from the Great Recession of 2008, wages of the American middle class have remained flat. Meanwhile, the cost of higher education has soared, and the forces of globalization and technological innovation are challenging workers to remain competitive. The spirit of upward mobility that propelled our country to world leadership status is eroding, and along with it, the American Dream.

Fortunately, the consequences of rapid global change make serious tax reform a real possibility. Political engagement is on the rise, and more citizens are seeking an outlet for their voices. To help citizens advocate for their interests, this project aims to demystify the U.S. tax system, expose corrosive tax preferences, and challenge readers to think about tax reform as an investment in a better future. The Payback Project invites citizens to take a seat at the table to envision a vastly simplified tax code that would benefit all Americans, not just those with the most access to the political process.

About the Book

Payback: Why the Top 1% Must Invest in the Rest and How it Can Renew America offers an insider’s perspective on the ways that special interests have corrupted capitalism and the power of citizens to change it. A common-sense, non-ideological guide to U.S. tax policy, Payback explains who benefits from tax preferences, and what citizens can do to protect their interests. The author concludes with a bold plan for restructuring the tax system in order to fund the public investments necessary to keep the country competitive and to preserve the American ideal for all citizens.

Book Features

Drawing on 40 years of experience working inside the tax system, often helping the wealthiest profit from tax preferences, the author is paying America back by offering a lifetime of knowledge for free. Some features it includes are:

Meet the Middletons

Follow Joe and Joan Middleton, a typical middle-class family as they make their way through the morass of taxation, wrestle with the complexities, and learn what’s required to change the system.

Take the Quiz!

Do you know the cost of government? Would you accept the Libertarian Bargain? These and other questions challenge readers to understand the value of the services their tax dollars provide.

Historical Perspective

From Solon’s Ancient Athens to Bismarck’s 18th century Germany, history offers lessons on the social consequences of inequality, the value of a strong middle class, and the vision needed to create a better future.


The AmeriShare Tax Plan

Payback concludes with a bold set of policy recommendations for funding the public investments necessary to move our nation beyond the status quo and back into the number one leadership position.

Advocate's Toolkit

This feature includes questions and resources to support professional journalists and media advocates in keeping tax justice on the public agenda.

Resource Library

The sources list includes 450+ downloadable articles and reports containing research on tax policy’s impact on middle- and low-income people, as well as journalism on tax policy from leading media outlets.

About the Author

Thomas Allen Moon

Thomas Allen Moon

As a public finance attorney and former watchdog with the SEC, I have 40 years of experience inside the U.S. tax system. Many of the tax deals I structured as a municipal bond lawyer overwhelmingly benefited corporate clients and the wealthy. Now that I'm retired, I consider it my duty to pay back America by educating others about the implications of tax policy for our country’s future. My book Payback is a clarion call for a more just tax system, brought about by greater leadership from the wealthiest and deeper engagement from the rest of us.