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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.142) 7 Inheritance
The Myth of Ownership

Liam Murphy

Thomas Nagel (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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