Since the distribution of tax burdens has no intrinsic moral significance, there is no genuine value of horizontal equity. Favorable tax treatment of owner-occupied housing is not intrinsically unfair, though it may be objectionable for contributing to social inequality. And a “marriage penalty” is not unfair, though it may be arbitrary. However the tax system can have discriminatory effects; for example, a combination of joint filing and graduated rates results in a disincentive for second earners (at present mostly women) to seek work.
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