Traditional Criteria of Tax Equity

Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel

in The Myth of Ownership

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195150162
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833924 | DOI:
 Traditional Criteria of Tax Equity

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Traditional analyses of tax justice demand that the distribution of tax burdens satisfy criteria of vertical and horizontal equity–like cases should be treated alike and relevantly different cases should be treated differently. Various criteria for relevant differences have been proposed, drawing on ideas such as ability to pay and taxation in proportion to benefit. All these analyses suffer from the fundamental flaw of treating pretax income as a morally significant baseline. This mistake can partly be traced to a prevailing “everyday libertarianism” according to which our legal property rights simply protect what we are independently morally entitled to; this view is incoherent.

Keywords: everyday libertarianism; libertarianism; benefit principle; ability to pay; vertical equity; horizontal equity; pretax income; tax burdens; baseline

Chapter.  10177 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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