Fairness in Taxation

Fairness in Taxation

JOHN G. HEAD
LARS OSBERG
LESLIE GREEN
A. MARGUERITE CASSIN
LEO PANITCH
edited by ALLAN M. MASLOVE
Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt130jvxm
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  • Book Info
    Fairness in Taxation
    Book Description:

    The papers in this volume explore the idea of distributive justice and fairness in taxation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2329-3
    Subjects: Business, Finance

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Monica Townson

    The Ontario Fair Tax Commission was established to examine the province’s tax system as an integrated whole and, in conjunction with its working groups, to analyse individual components of the system in detail.

    It has been many years since the Ontario tax system was subjected to a comprehensive examination. However, a great deal of research on taxation has been undertaken over the past two decades. This work, based in several disciplines, has been both theoretical and applied, and in this context the research program of the Fair Tax Commission was formulated.

    The research program has two broad purposes. The first...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)
    Allan M. Maslove

    Many people’s first reaction to the name “Fair Tax Commission” is that it is oxymoronic; there is no such thing as a fair tax. Flippancy aside, the comment reflects a view that fairness is “in the eye of the beholder” and that there are no widely accepted fairness principles on which to base tax systems (or other policy decisions). Is this commonly held perception correct?

    To explore the idea of fairness and its relationship to the design of tax systems, the Fair Tax Commission invited five distinguished scholars to contribute papers. Professor John Head was asked to provide a “state...

  5. 1 Tax-Fairness Principles: A Conceptual, Historical, and Practical Review
    (pp. 3-62)
    JOHN G. HEAD

    The tax system has long been recognized by political scientists as one of the most important economic and political institutions in a liberal democracy. It has a quasi-constitutional character in the sense that it remains in force, usually with only minor changes, over a sequence of budgetary decision-making periods. The prevailing tax structure establishes the way in which the cost of public services is to be shared and, in combination with the transfer system, has a crucial impact on the shape of the income and wealth distribution. Extremely controversial and potentially divisive issues of justice, fairness, or equity are thus...

  6. 2 What’s Fair? The Problem of Equity in Taxation
    (pp. 63-86)
    LARS OSBERG

    Equity in taxation is important for both principled and practical reasons. Citizens have, in general, the right to expect “fairness” in public policy, including taxation. As well, since tax systems perceived to be “unfair” tend to be resisted with special intensity, such tax systems tend to generate less revenue, and have higher administrative costs, than tax systems that are perceived to be “fair.” However, it is not immediately obvious what a “fair” tax system would look like. Section 1 of this paper, therefore, begins with four real-world tax examples rationalized by differing concepts of “equity.” Section 2 then discusses what...

  7. 3 Concepts of Equity in Taxation
    (pp. 87-103)
    LESLIE GREEN

    In this paper, I explore, from the point of view of a moral and political philosopher, some general issues about the concept of equity or fairness in taxation. I argue, first, that one familiar notion of “equity” as employed in traditional public-finance literature is unhelpful for the policy maker and, second, that among apparently divergent political philosophies there is none the less a surprising consensus about the legitimacy of redistributive taxation.

    A tax system can properly be expected to fulfil a number of economic goals: it should secure a sufficient level of revenue for the government; play a role in...

  8. 4 Equitable and Fair: Widening the Circle
    (pp. 104-134)
    A. MARGUERITE CASSIN

    This paper explores how to think about fairness in relation to taxation. It seeks to make a paradigm shift, moving away from assuming the rationality and neutrality of the disciplines involved in creating the theory and practice of tax. Instead it argues for investigating tax practices and associated discourse as a social organization. I use feminist method and scholarship to problematize rationality and neutrality and argue that we need to seek fairness in relation to the everyday realities of people’s lives.

    As an everyday matter tax is viewed as political, inevitable, and a matter beyond the control of ordinary people....

  9. 5 Beyond the Crisis of the Tax State? From Fair Taxation to Structural Reform
    (pp. 135-160)
    LEO PANITCH

    Historically speaking, death and taxes really do go together, at least in the form of the couplet of war and income tax. The first introduction of income tax under Pitt in England at the very end of the 18th century was occasioned by the Napoleonic Wars. (Notably, Pitt tried to justify this tax in terms that tax experts today would call “horizontal equity” – a shilling is a shilling? – by arguing that it was in order “to prevent all evasion and fraud” that “a general tax shall be imposed on the leading branches of income.”)¹ The modern system of income tax...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 161-161)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 162-162)