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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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(p.130) 6 Progressivity
The Myth of Ownership

Liam Murphy

Thomas Nagel (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Considerations of fairness have no direct bearing on the issue of progressivity in tax rates; there is no genuine issue of vertical equity. Whether a proportional, progressive, or a regressive tax rate scheme is to be preferred on ethical grounds depends upon the justice of the outcomes the different schemes tend to promote. It is clear that this instrumental question requires a good deal of empirical information for its answer. While it is often claimed that high marginal tax rates greatly deter work (which is bad according to most theories of justice), this is not the consensus among economists.

Keywords:   progressivity, regressivity, proportional taxation, vertical equity, marginal rates, fairness, justice

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