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Elements of a Fiscal Politics: Public Choice and Public Finance

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  • Geoffrey Brennan

Abstract

The object of this paper is to indicate how public choice theory and orthodox normative tax theory may be integrated within a single coherent intellectual framework. Because public choice theory has quite different conceptual foundations from normative tax theory, this is no simple task. A purely positive fiscal theory, that derives tax arrangements as one aspect of the emergent political equilibrium, would leave no logical room for normative tax theory at all: the question as to what the tax system ‘ought to be’ becomes irrelevant, or at least inseparable from the broader question as to the appropriateness of general political institutions. However, if tax arrangements are viewed as part of the political institutional framework, normative tax theory can be admitted ‐ but in a somewhat reformulated way. The paper aims to set out briefly the reformulations required.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoffrey Brennan, 1984. "Elements of a Fiscal Politics: Public Choice and Public Finance," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 17(3), pages 62-72, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ausecr:v:17:y:1984:i:3:p:62-72
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8462.1984.tb00455.x
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    1. Brennan, Geoffrey & Bohanon, Cecil & Carter, Richard, 1984. "Public Finance and Public Prices: Towards a Reconstruction of Tax Theory," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 39(2), pages 157-181.
    2. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
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