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:

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Setting aside spurious considerations about double taxation and fairness to donors, the real moral question concerning taxation and inheritance is whether gratuitous transfers require special tax treatment on the ground of equality of opportunity. Some place such a high value on personal responsibility that confiscation of all such transfers has ethical appeal. A more appealing view holds that opportunities need not be strictly equal, so long as they are adequate for all. On such a view there is no ground for the confiscation of gratuitous transfers, but neither is there ground for the current exemption of such transfers from the tax base of donees.

Keywords: inheritance; gratuitous transfer; equality of opportunity; double taxation; donee; donor

Chapter.  7187 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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