The ethics of tax policy

Authored by: Ira K. Lindsay

The Routledge Handbook of Ethics and Public Policy

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138201279
eBook ISBN: 9781315461731
Adobe ISBN:


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Tax policy must address three fundamental questions: what is taxed, who is taxed, and how tax burdens are allocated among taxpayers. This chapter examines the ethical dimensions of these questions, including the merits of income taxation, consumption taxation and Pigouvian taxes, the tax treatment of families and of corporations, the justification of progressive taxation, and tax competition. It considers theories of tax fairness grounded in taxpayers’ ability to pay and in the benefits taxpayers receive from government as well as the perspectives of utilitarians, egalitarians, and public choice theorists.

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