Chapter

The Tax Base

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195150163.003.0005
 The Tax Base

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The choice of tax base–income, consumption, wealth–is an instrumental one: it depends upon the efficiency and justice of the outcomes different tax bases promote. Traditional fairness-based arguments for the consumption base–for example, that it is fairer to savers, or appropriately taxes according to what is taken out rather than put into the “common pool”–all suffer from the everyday libertarian mistake of treating the pretax distribution as morally significant. But there are important philosophical questions to be asked about the value of wealth and the legitimacy of taxing endowment (potential rather than actual income).

Keywords: tax base; income; consumption; wealth; endowment; fairness

Chapter.  12660 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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