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The Myth of OwnershipTaxes and Justice$
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Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195150162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195150163.001.0001

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The Tax Base

The Tax Base

Chapter:
(p.96) 5 The Tax Base
Source:
The Myth of Ownership
Author(s):

Liam Murphy

Thomas Nagel (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195150163.003.0005

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

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