As in many other countries, one major purpose of income taxes in the U.S. is to ensure a redistribution of wealth. As such, federal income taxes, and most state income taxes, are progressive tax systems. This means that those with higher incomes pay more and thus carry a larger share of the tax burden of society. However, there is no consensus nationwide on the distribution of the tax burden and therefore levels vary from state to state. The state which placed the highest tax burden on the top 1 percent of income earners in 2012 was California. At the other end of the scale, Washington placed the highest tax burden on the lowest 20 percent.
At times, taxes are implemented for reasons than other funding government programs. One often cited example is the high percentage of tax on alcohol and cigarettes. Such taxes are put in place in order to discourage consumption of that particular product. However, considerable tax revenues are received as a result, leading to some consumers suggesting such taxes are simply a means of revenue generation.